Top 10 Things To Become A Better Developer

1) Be Connected – Read RSS feeds. MySpace and Facebook aren’t RSS feeds – Scott Guthrie, Raymond Chen, Larry Osterman,, Coding Horror, You’ve been Haacked, etc. Don’t know who any of those blogs are? You should. Learn how RSS works, get a RSS Aggregator, subscribe, and read them daily or as time allows. Don’t let it get in the way of your work though. If you are brave enough, create your own blog and get feedback on things you blog about from a technical point of view.

2) Home Computer – what do you have on it? World of Warcraft? How about VS2005/SQL Express editions, or better yet, if you can get the full blown versions. Do you have IIS installed, do you know how to configure All of these things are going to get you more into developing. Think to yourself, if I was a car mechanic, would I not have any tools in my garage at home?

3) Home Projects – now that you have your computer set up – come up with some ideas – anything, for a project. Write up the specs yourself. Figure out what you need to do to get it done, and do it.

If you make a windows app, you can get a domain and set up some html for 50$ a year, and put it out for people to download. If it is a web app, you can promote that too. Try to get people to use your app, make apps for friends, family, etc.

4) Become a Hacker – not in the sense of breaking into banks online, but just tinkering with code, programs, anything. think outside the box. become a “reverse engineer specialist”. If you can figure out how to reverse engineer someone else’s code or program, more than likely you are going to be able to easily write the program yourself.

5) Be Committed – you can’t just ride on your laurels. You need to practice and commit time to being a developer. You can’t expect to just do what is expected, you need to do extra effort+ to be great. You should love what you do. Lou Holtz (Notre Dame football coach) once said, the order of things should be this:  God, Family, Football. – just replace football with Developing.

6) Learn the Business – Developers that work for a business are going to thrive if they know as much about the business as possible. You can’t just expect to get a task list or requirement sheet and implement it without knowing why or what for. If you know the business, you can make decisions faster and you will actually be doing more things to help the business. In the end it’s all about the company you work for, not you. Just like a pro sports team – you can be the MVP like Kevin Garnett, but without a team championship, you are always missing something.

7) Work Hard, Play Hard – work your butt off. Make it a game. Tell yourself “no one is going to work harder than i am – ever” – but , when it comes time to play and be social, you need to do that too. The best business people will tell you, it’s not what you do, it’s who you know. You need to make yourself known to people. There is always time for fun, but you need to know where the balance is, and to be great, the scales should tip on the side of work.

8) Confidence – you need to have confidence in yourself. If you get a task that you know you can do, say you can. If you get a task that you can’t do, you need to say you can do it and have confidence you can figure out. Don’t ever say “i can’t”. This will build up your confidence in yourself, as well as the way other people see you. If people start seeing you as someone who always “cant” then they will stop asking you to do anything.

9) Initiative – you need to have drive. This sort of goes along with #3. At work you should see ways to improve things, and instead of just skipping over them, do it. It will help you learn more about the systems you work on, as well as show that you are driven to make things better. If for some reason you are stuck without any tasks, find something you can do, research something new. Twiddling your thumbs waiting for someone to tell you what to do isn’t going to get you anywhere.

10) Be Humble – no one likes someone who toots their own horn. You might be a genius, but if you are an a$$hole, no one will like you. There will always be someone out there better than you. This should give you a sense that you always need to improve. If you are good, people will compliment you and talk about anyways, so there isn’t any need to try to get attention or brag about yourself.

By Steve Novoselac

Director of Digital Technology @TrekBikes, Father, Musician, Cyclist, Homebrewer

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