Show up on time, deliver your code on time, and learn to properly estimate how much time a project will take.
A revolutionary rock band from 1994 once said, “Time is wasting, time is walking…”, and while time did eventually get its revenge on them, their warning should not go unheeded. “…in any business, and in life: whether you’re freelancing, whether you’re working for somebody: show up on time.”
We can extrapolate even further with this little nugget, because the ‘show up on time’ mentality also leads us to other positive behaviors. “It also means doing what you say. So don’t promise you’re going to deliver in 3 weeks, and then deliver in 6 weeks.” Now this can be tricky because we want to deliver good work, but we don’t want to keep the client waiting (it’s not good for them or for you, trust us), so how do we compromise? “You gotta work hard to make sure that in your estimates you hit those milestones as you promised. So one of the tricks is to overestimate the amount of time it’s gonna take to do something: So let’s say you figure it’s gonna take you a month to complete a project, tell your client it’s gonna take you 2 months -so if you get it done in a month: fantastic!” And if things go wrong, and you get it done in a month and a half, you’re still okay…
The VLOG will give you even more tips, and expand on them for dealing with clients (whether freelancing or ‘9 to 5-ing’). Also, in a quick flash of shameless self-promotion; please check out our complete freelancer course. It’s the best way to take advantage of decades of experience (speaking of time) and turn it into little digestible bits, and you just know there’s going to be a part in it about time management. -Enjoy!
What lessons do 25 years of coding impart? Harken younglings! The wisdom drawn from the ancient past.
First things first; Thank you Blizzard for not suing us. This title is really a testament to the enduring warmth of the characters you have created. And wouldn’t it be lovely if a young programmer eventually found their way to work for you because of a this blog…?
Alright, onto the imparting… is everyone still harkening? Great.
1. You will learn much more when you start getting paid to code: So among the new programmers or people just learning to program/code, there’s this idea that you need to show up with a full and infallible knowledge right out of the gate. “That’s why you see people get caught up in all these tutorials, because they’re insecure about their level of skill, so they keep doing more tutorials, more tutorials, more tutorials… Real world coding is about learning as you go -especially in the first 3-5 years as a software developer.” Now just so you don’t think that it’s all hand-holding and singing bible hymns around a campfire, “One of the number one skills of a good developer, by the way, is that they’re able to learn quickly.” So, while you are completely allowed to make mistakes and correct them, depending on where you work, you will be expected to pick up certain skills in an ‘amount’ of time…
2. The best code is simple code: If you’ve been following the VLOG or BLOG, you know that we bring this up every 2 or 3 posts, but it is important. No one cares about your flashy hijinx because, “The best developers write simple code. Why? Because code has to be updated a lot of times, especially in a valuable concept, and if you have complex code then that’s going to be a nightmare to maintain, very expensive to maintain and more prone to to bugs. So strive to write simple code.” Think of it this way, if you came onto project and were asked to update someone else’s work, wouldn’t you want to see simple and easy to read code? Not only is it professional, but think of it as a courtesy…
3. Coding real world apps is an iterative process: No one writes perfect, untouchable code in one sitting. Be prepared to do a few passes. Things change and things need updating. “Every time you do a pass, you refine the quality of the code. So that’s why when you develop your app (alpha), you want to get the whole working app out the door as quickly as possible: fully functional …because that way even if you’ve got parts of it really written badly, having that fully functional app (even if it’s crippled), it gives you insight into what the app ultimately should be.” In the beginning (the alpha stages), you really have only a limited idea of what the project should be, or how it will come together. “When you are writing code, you wanna get from A to Z -get the whole thing functional- then you start refining it, refining it. As you learn about the use case (how the app should be used/structured), then you can start writing more solid code. [The idea being] that with each pass the quality of the software will improve.”
4. Nobody wants to write good docs[documentation], but they should: This should be a ‘no-brainer’, let’s say you’re taking a class, you’ve shown up all semester and done all the in-class assignments. Then the test rolls around and you open your note book to look at your notes and there’s either nothing there or just drawings of sweet-ass guitars on fire, descending from the heavens for you to grab while you’re riding your red dragon into battle…(you know, non-specific stuff, that I totally didn’t draw in high school physics). It’s arguable that you are going to be screwed for the test ahead, and that’s how we feel about documentation. “Good documentation is huge because it will help you remember why you made certain architectural decisions in the code, and will help you transfer the knowledge to the next set of people who might get on the project. So if you have software that’s going to be successful in anyway, you wanna have good documentation -it’s just so important in terms of the quality of the project.”
So there it is young warriors, check out the VLOG where you can get this knowledge straight from the wizard’s mouth, plus more in depth ramblings…ah…epiphanies…yeah… . If you’re interested in learning more, please check out the links down below to our courses in web development, learning Python, or even freelancing, and entrepreneurship. They also make a great gift for that someone on the fence that just needs a little nudge. Fight the good fight and keep that code clean and simple. -Enjoy!
Someone discovers the hidden treasures of PHP, and makes money with it!
We received a comment from someone (check out the VLOG), who states that since they started learning php, a whole new world has started opening up for them. They’ve…”discovered all these scripts for all kinds of things you can’t buy anywhere, [and]…if you refactor it, you can make it compatible with the most recent version of php.” So if you put in the time and work you can have a whole new app, or software solution, etc… And they go onto say that they are bringing solutions into the work place that their co-workers haven’t even thought of, and all we can say is, ‘We salute you Sir or Madam’.
Long have we sung the praises of that workhorse: php. A programming language that’s been around for an arguably long time, but shows no signs of going anywhere, due in large part to it’s flexibility and (relative) ease of use. “That’s one of the strengths of php, by the way… It’s been around for so long; so many people used it in the real world contexts: to get stuff out, to hack stuff out, but there’s tons of stuff out there. A lot of it’s not well written…but you may have 75% of the guts of what you need there, and you can just grab it, improve it; refactor (you know, it just means rework it), fix it up, make it work and then BOOM! Drop it on where you need to have it drop in and Bob’s your uncle. And that’s perfectly reasonable thing”.
Check out the VLOG for a sharper explanation and some more beautiful MTL skyline. Keep on digging through scripts and libraries and you never know what you might find… -Enjoy!
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Contrary to what the title would suggest, we’re not trying to pit software developers against programmers in an all out brawl to the death in a post-apocalyptic forum for our amusement… *mental note for the end of the world*
No, what we’re presenting here is the subtle and (sometimes) not so subtle differences between the jobs, tasks, and expectations of these careers so that you can know what’s right (or interesting) for you when thinking about which path you may want to take.
We will also mention the role of architect and scriptor but the VLOG itself will go into way more detail about these jobs. Also, be ready for some shameless promotion because this is pretty much our milieu (area of expertise) here, and our courses reflect that.
Before we get started, I just want to point out that we are speaking in generalities, and yes, it’s quite possible that the position in your company or your freelancing gig has you filling different roles. These jobs can be quite fluid and we are only going to speak to what’s generally expected of you in these roles…
“A software developer is someone who is able to create entire systems, while a programmer (can also be a software developer), [but more likely], is someone who just writes code and can write programs. A software developer would develop an entire web app from scratch, would be able to design all the different layers, etc. … A software developer [in a nutshell] is a very experienced programmer… A lot of very experienced programmers never become software developers because they don’t go to that level, they work on very specific things here and there and they don’t develop entire architectures.”
A scriptor is someone who writes very simple lines of programming code. Little bits of Python code to automate software, a lot software out there (video rendering engines, etc) they’ll use Python to control how the software operates (batch operations, etc.), and that’s traditionally someone you would call a scriptor, because they’re writing little scripts (short pieces of code). And there’s a lot of demand for that as well!”
Software architects are quite literally architects of the software. They may not have time to do the task of the software developers, programmers, or scriptors, but they take care of the overall, top-down structure. For example, they could pick the languages, the frameworks, they get into the nitty-gritty with the lead developer, going over the best way to tackle situations/problems. Look, if you’re a software developer, and once a week (or more) you have a meeting with someone who you bring problems to, or someone who points you in certain directions or chooses the very foundational cores from which you work in…chances are they’re the architect.
So there you have it. Again, the VLOG goes into way more detail, we recommend you check it out. And no matter what you choose to be, check out our courses because they are made to give you the tools to see the bigger picture, which is always good. Believe me, you want to be overqualified for your job, people notice that and usually want to put you in a better position…or just pay you more money. -Enjoy!
Can you still make money as a freelance web designer in 2019-2020?
No clever title today, young devs… We received an email that had so many good, topical questions that we decided we didn’t have time to get ‘cute’ and just wanted to dive right in…
Is freelancing web design still viable in 2019-2020? -More than ever. There is an unprecedented amount of freelancers in North America and the world. “I’m not talking about web programming; just general purpose autonomous people working on their own businesses, whether it be in the tech space or outside of the tech space: this is the trend. …It has jumped quite a bit in the last 10 years and continues to accelerate. All these independent contractors and small business owners if they don’t already have a website, they’re going to need websites.”
Re: Freelancing in AI/Machine Learning: This is big but still in the early stages, I don’t see there being too many freelance jobs in that space -probably lots of work working for people full time- but in terms of AI/machine learning, I don’t see it as a freelancer thing yet. It’s not to say that it won’t be a ‘thing’, it’s just to say that it might take longer for people to come around to it. Like in the way that most companies didn’t even know what a website was in ’95 and now [pretty much] every company has one…
Another thing we’d like to add on the viability of being a freelancer in 2019/20, is “there was a period 4 or 5 years ago (give of take) where people were looking at websites as being less important -better to build your social media presence (like on Facebook or something)- but things have changed, we’ve seen how FB can take people down -they ultimately control your presence on their platform- so smart business owners are starting to realize it’s much better to have your own website, your own space on the web and then have a ‘satellite’ FB presence (Instagram, YouTube, etc…).” Meaning there will be a continued rise in the need for web development professionals (web design, etc).
So there you have it. Now the VLOG goes into a much deeper dive and the answers are much more robust (I mean how much can you really read here in the five minutes you have to drink your coffee while you’re supposed to be working… :] ), you should really check it out. And if it turns out you have 10 minutes instead of 5 for slacking off, check out our courses (especially ‘WEB DEVELOPMENT‘ ) which are not only built from the ground up, but also take advantage of almost 3 decades in the industry! -Enjoy!
We definitely covered this in a past article, but in the words of my proctologist doing his 3 colonoscopy in 2 days, “It’s always good to check in…”. So, how does one go from average developer, to master code? What is the quickest way to having a deep understanding of code and software development … how do you develop deep coding skills?
Well…practice. And by practice we don’t mean doing tutorials or coding camp, etc. We mean putting on your speedo, inflating your water wings, getting on your swim goggles and jumping in the deep end like a real man…hehe. “Short answer is by actually building real projects. Don’t get caught up in the game of continuously doing tutorials, or code camps, or code competitions, or studying algorithms -that is not going to give you a deep understanding of code. The analogy I like to use is the ‘pad hitters’ and the people that actually jump in the ring and fight. This is in reference of course to martial arts…and you [have] a group of people who would just do training drills and combination drills, and pad hitting and heavy bag work, but they didn’t want to get in the ring…because they were scared. But when they eventually got in the ring (some of them do), what they discovered is all that pad hitting, all those types of exercises didn’t really do too much to prepare them for fighting -you can take someone whose done 6 months of pad hitting training vs. someone whose done 3 months of sparring, and the guy whose done 3 months of sparring will be a much better fighter: meaning they will have a much better understanding of fighting…”
Now, it’s very true that we simply could have used the martial arts metaphor instead of the imagery of a grown man putting on a speedo, water wings and goggles, and then jumping into the deep end of the pool (to gain their experience), but I say to you good sir or madam…why can’t we have both?
Young developers are hyper concerned about learning the newest programming languages and frameworks only … but the most popular languages today are 20+ years old!
Alright yung’uns, gather ’round the fire… I know, everyone has indoor heating and there’s no need for fires anymore but this is gonna help with the over all ‘flavor’ for this blog…
Many you young devs are focusing on the shiniest, newest programming languages and frameworks, and while I salute your moxi, your gusto, heck; even your gumption… I’m here to tell ya, that there’s a difference between new and popular. I know when you’re listening to your CardiB’s and your Lizzo’s, you may not see a distinction but in the programming world, lemme tell ya, bucko, there is definitely a difference…
“…For a long, long time -like 10/20 years- especially when it came to the web stack, the technology changed so often…websites and web apps…it has changed so radically.” Now, as I understand with you yung’uns, 10 or 20 years ago might as well be 100 years ago but, “…when it comes to the actual programming languages (the popular ones that are used to date), …they are pretty much entrenched. I think you’re not going to see a big move away from the major players over the next long time. Why? There’s just no need to. Now in the past you would create a programming language because there was a particular need that was very important, but it was not addressed by current languages.”
Also, over the years as computers have become markedly faster (CPUs and memory both have become faster and cheaper), the need for highly optimized programming languages have become arguably less and less important, because a human eyeball won’t necessarily notice execution speed on most modern computers because they process that information much more efficiently than a computer from 10 or 20 years ago.
The VLOG goes into waayyy more detail, we’re talking SQLs, Bootstrap, even RUBY (and only an inkling of an insult too). But, “when it comes to the major programming [and coding] languages of today, not much has changed in many years. …On the advanced stuff yeah, but in terms of language, not much has changed. …When you’re looking at the languages, at the technology, it’s not as critical to have stuff that was created in the last two minutes. The big ones [programming languages] they’re not going anywhere because they’re good, they’re good at what they do and the problems they may have can be addressed with some small updates, and they just keep getting more performance with the updates…”. Now, it’s almost 4pm so you better git gone and think about what I’ve said while I get ready to sit down to my dinner… -Enjoy!
Will AI replace software developers in a short time?
For those of you keeping score at home we actually dove into this a year ago, but since a newly published Forbes article has pointed out some advancements in AI learning, we’d like to comment on the, ‘next step towards Skynet’.
So in the interest of calming your fears, we’re going to heighten them -only for a little while, I promise! But essentially, “… AI has really accelerated quite a bit over the last ten years, and they’re saying it’s about to go into a hyper-accelerated wave…”. There are very understandable reasons for this: 1- I Got the Power!: From a purely material stance, specialized AI chip sets have greatly increased their computing power. 2- We’re Feeding the Beast: For AI to work, it needs data, “…so the nerds came up with these things called data lakes -where all the data is pooled- so you can throw your AI at it and the AI can learn. The more data, the better the data -the better the data is segmented- , the better your AI will operate.” 3- Smarter, Faster: The AI algorithms are just getting better.
The latest application of AI has been the ‘Tab9‘ project wherein, “…a couple of guys basically took their AI, pointed it at 2 million github files and now they have a plugin…and the AI can do code completion much more effectively than traditional code completion”. But don’t start stocking up on canned food and making plans to reinforce your basement just yet, because now that we’ve whipped you into a frothing mass of fear and foreboding, we’re going to calmly bring you back down to the serene, put together, and well mannered developer you are…
The Road is Long… We’re not going to lie to you; AI is a growing technology and everyday new applications are being found. But that doesn’t mean that AI will be taking your job anytime soon. “…they’re not replacing developers, they’re [AI] just assisting developers in [their] process.” However, we can’t say with great certainty that everyone else’s job is safe; “…long before AI replaces software development, it’s going to replace truckers, replace accountants, many legal jobs, many medical jobs -you get the idea… .” But just in case you’re not a programmer and you’re reading this blog and feeling a little ‘tight’ in the chest, let us offer you an olive branch; “…before it gets to developers, AI will have replaced huge parts of industry, and as a result of that, …the entire infrastructure of society will have to be modified accordingly -so I wouldn’t worry about it because there’ll be warning sign years in advance before developers will be taken out by AI.”
The VLOG goes into way more detail and some more sweet scenery of the MTL skyline. Plus, we’ve teamed up with InMotion hosting for a really amazing offer where they pay for you to take our courses and learn how to become a web developer. Link below. -Enjoy!
Is Java easy to learn or am I just not good at programming?
First of all, I think we can all agree: Awwww, muffin, no! Second, “99% of the time, when you’re running into problems…learning a programming language -especially Java- it’s normal for everybody and 99% of the time you just have to give yourself some time and a chance.”
So there you have it. The VLOG goes into way more detail, including listing some of the easier, more synergistic languages to learn instead of the ‘Java jump’. Also, and I hate to do this but <Shameless Self Promotion>, we offer courses that take advantage of both coding experience AND teaching experience every step of the way. Check it out (links at the bottom).
The thing to remember is you’re not stupid, sometimes you just need to take it easy on yourself, give yourself a break, and be patient. Enjoy more sweet scenery of MTL at the end of this VLOG… Ye gods! Just look at all that green in the background. -Enjoy!
There is no better teacher of software development than the long term experience of building and refining a commercial app used by countless users.
As we get older we have friends who get married and have children. Sometimes while hanging out, maybe while having drinks or dinner, you might ask them how parenthood is going or (heavens forbid), you let it slip that you can’t wait to have children yourself, that it would be ‘fun’… Then you get to watch their brows furrow and the mood get very somber (did the lights suddenly dim in here? Did it get colder?!), and with a gaze that seems to penetrate your very soul they say in a foreboding voice, ‘YOU.HAVE.NO.IDEA.’. That somehow the scope and challenge of raising children is completely out your experience and in the abstract and ethereal, and one can never hope to grasp it until they are waist deep in it… Wow, that got ranty real fast…
Well, we’re going to make a statement that might put us in the same category as those pretentious parents but unlike those parents, we do it with love and encouragement…but we will dim the lights for dramatic effect… “You don’t really know app development until you’ve developed an app, taken it to market, gotten feedback, refactored/refined, and then made money with that app, or at least been part of a team that’s gone through that process where you’ve seen the app go from inception to actual functional use with the end user.” I know, for some of you ‘thems fightin’ words‘, but what we mean is that version 1 of your app, is not going to be the end – far from it in fact. A lot of (young) developers [devs] coming up are under the assumption that if they write the ‘perfect’ code, that the app will be perfect and there will be no need for a version 2, 3 or even 4. “…You have to expect that when you become a professional developer, that you’re going to go through many iterations…”. There is a purely academic idea that has been making the rounds lately in articles and even some YouTube videos about the “purity of code” or “purity of implementation”, and when you’re making commercial software, it’s just not the case.
The VLOG goes into waaaaayyyyy more robust detail, stemming from over 3 decades of experience in the business (which is like 269 years in young dev time), but what we really want you to know is, with regards to your app: (A) – Don’t worry about making mistakes (B) – Don’t expect that your first iteration of your code and your software is going to be perfect –it will never be perfect. so “…get your app out quickly (within reason, of course), don’t waste your time with perfect implementation.” Also, bonus material: We make fun of RUBY a lot. But at the end of the Vlog is a sort of postmortem theorizing -from a reliable source- why RUBY lost out on a huge share of the market. Plus, some sweet aerial scenery of MTL. -Enjoy!