Skip to main content

How To Teach Software Development: Why Good Developers Should Care - Part Two

How To Teach Software Development
  1. Introduction
  2. Developers
    Quality Control
    Motivation
    Execution
  3. Businesses
  4. Students
  5. Schools

What's the Point?

Some opinions, while held, are held softly. I believe the understanding is the opinion changes nothing and you aren't doing anything about it, so giving a damn is pointless. You may call it apathy, but I call it misunderstanding the nature of information. Information spreads from those who have it to those who do not and those in agreement grease the wheels of that distribution.

Of course, there are good developers who don't care if there are bad developers. I'm not convinced they're still reading, at this point. If they are, then the reasons we can make a difference should help convince you to care about that difference in the first place.

The more widely held the beliefs that we can and should do something to improve the quality of this industry, the more likely anything will happen. You might not be lecturing in the classroom, but I'm sure you've pointed something out to a colleague, new or old, so remember that education never ends and we're talking about life-long improvement, not what people start with.

Your opinion spreads like a bad rumor... but, good! While you could point out to that guy in the next cubicle that the subprocess module is a cleaner solution than the popen*() functions, many may think it doesn't matter for the code that already exists, so don't bother him about it. We might ignore that cleaning up code makes it easier to come back to for fixes and improvements down the road. We can't ignore that pushing him to do the right thing today makes it more likely he'll think about it twice tomorrow. It also makes it more likely he'll return that push to you when you slip or to the next person he notices with room to improve (we all do). We have a collective momentum and together we decide if it goes up or down.

The issues at hand are more than the initial state of entry levels. We have an investment in our fellow coders, graphic designers, UI experts, testers, and managers, like it or not. Without your own teams the need for quality is obvious and makes your job better when you have better code to work with, more understandable managers supporting you, and an environment that supports more than just good enough.

Our group motivation carries outside of our own bubbles, as bubbles are mostly illusion. Think of every third party tool or library you've had a problem with and remember Kevin Bacon. Think of every new member of any team you've had a problem with, too. All of these frustrations come from people and those are people you have influence over, because we are all connected. Maybe you don't believe there's anything you, personally, can do to improve our sad state of affairs. Remember that we all have an effect on everyone else, even in the most indiscernible, indirect manner. It is very easy to downplay and completely ignore those many but tiny influences we all make, and we do it in nearly every context of our lives, but I want you to know that you do make a difference. You make a difference because we all make those small differences together, and when they are in alignment they are more powerful than even the most public figure with a metaphorical bullhorn.

Even if you will only grease the wheels of change, if you care about the change at all do not let those wheels squeal!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

CARDIAC: The Cardboard Computer

I am just so excited about this.


CARDIAC. The Cardboard Computer. How cool is that? This piece of history is amazing and better than that: it is extremely accessible. This fantastic design was built in 1969 by David Hagelbarger at Bell Labs to explain what computers were to those who would otherwise have no exposure to them. Miraculously, the CARDIAC (CARDboard Interactive Aid to Computation) was able to actually function as a slow and rudimentary computer. 
One of the most fascinating aspects of this gem is that at the time of its publication the scope it was able to demonstrate was actually useful in explaining what a computer was. Could you imagine trying to explain computers today with anything close to the CARDIAC?

It had 100 memory locations and only ten instructions. The memory held signed 3-digit numbers (-999 through 999) and instructions could be encoded such that the first digit was the instruction and the second two digits were the address of memory to operate on. The only re…

How To Care If BSD, MIT, or GPL Licenses Are Used

The two recent posts about some individuals' choice of GPL versus others' preference for BSD and MIT style licensing has caused a lot of debate and response. I've seen everything as an interesting combination of very important topics being taken far too seriously and far too personally. All involved need to take a few steps back.

For the uninitiated and as a clarifier for the initiated, we're dealing with (basically) three categories of licensing when someone releases software (and/or its code):
Closed Source. Easiest to explain, because you just get nothing.GPL. If you get the software, you get the source code, you get to change it, and anything you combine it with must be under the same terms.MIT and BSD. If you get the software, you might get the source code, you get to change it, and you have no obligations about anything else you combine it with.The situation gets stickier when we look at those combinations and the transitions between them.

Use GPL code with Closed S…

Using a React Context as a Dispatch Replacement

React Contexts are the pretty little bows of the React world.

Here's a really quick example of the kind of messy code you can cleanup by using contexts, without dragging in a larger dependency like Redux or even Flux. Starting backwards with a diff showing lines of code I was able to remove:


All the properties I was able to remove were just pass-through. The Carousel component didn't care about any of them, but it had to pass through these callbacks so the multiple TaskList components inside the carousel could invoke actions. They were removed from the Component class itself, too, since it no longer needed to pass them through.

Where did they all go?


My ActionContext removed all the need for these passthroughs by providing a single simple helper method, action(), that components rendered under it can access.


I really enjoy the pattern of passing a single callback through a context and removing what used to be lots of callback properties. Of course, I could be using a proper di…