Wednesday, January 17, 2018

New Tools for the Toolbelt

If you’ve never heard of Chris Hawkes, check him out. I listen pretty regularly. Like a lot of guys you find on YouTube, most of his content is geared towards new developers. He still manages to slide in a few advanced topics, though. Be warned: if you’re sensitive to profane language, he may not be for you. He can sometimes be vulgar. It doesn’t bother me, though; I find it funny.

Anyway, I was listening to "Is CoffeeScript Dead In 2018?," and he made a good point - the gist of which was to be strategic about where you invest your learning time. In other words, don’t feel pressured to learn the newest technologies, as soon as they come out. Sometimes it’s better to just wait. He uses CoffeeScript as an example. Apparently it’s dead.

I’m relatively new to development (3.5 professional years, at this point), and haven’t worked on any CoffeeScript projects. As a result, I don’t know much about it. I am preparing to adopt TypeScript in a coming project, however, which is a similar technology. For those unfamiliar, TypeScript basically adds data types to JavaScript. After watching Chris’ video, however, I started having concerns. TypeScript requires a dedicated maintenance team. What if that team dissolves? What if Microsoft goes proprietary? What if a better implementation of data types is already in the works for a coming release of JS? Crazier things have happened…

I shared the video with a colleague of mine - a guy I trust and respect - who is in the TypeScript-is-fine camp. He allayed a few of my concerns, but he’s still a relatively young guy. He hasn’t had time to see an industry evolve. I have. I’m now a developer because of “industrial evolution.” Forgive me if I lack faith. At the end of the day though, I agree with him: TypeScript likely has a bright future. I should probably move forward with it. But Chris’ words of caution have not fallen on deaf ears. I get the point: adopt new technologies cautiously.

What do you think? I’m sure you’ve noticed how fast technologies are changing. I mean, who was talking about React, five years ago? Now you can’t get job unless you know it… Are you a slow-adopter, or think it’s vital that developers stay up-to-date with the latest and greatest? Drop a line.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Where have I been?

Doctors playing my game.  
It has been a while since my last post. Some of you may be wondering what’s up with that. Well I’ll tell you: I’ve been working - working hard. My company recently had a big event, and it was all-hands-on-deck. We were at it full-throttle, for a few months. I managed to squeak out a few articles, in the beginning, but then the workload became too much. One of my applications was in the show. I had to focus. Everything went very well, though! Doctors from all over the world played my game; I even saw them taking pictures beside the screen. I’m still elated!

Since then, unit testing has consumed much of my time. I currently have a few projects on my plate, and they all need tests. I know, I know… I should have written them first. Well, I’m new to this, and deadlines are real. Writing had to take a backseat, while I learned the Jasmine framework, and how to properly implement consistent, fast, accurate tests. That’s definitely more than a month-long process; I still have plenty to learn, but I’m making progress. And I like the results. The first unit tests I ever wrote were on the backend (PHPUnit), and weren’t really good. I learned a lot, though, and much of it transfers to what I’m doing with Jasmine. I find the confidence from testing, and ability to skip the browser (I use Karma to run tests), are worth the extra effort. I plan to make this a permanent change in my workflow. Maybe I’ll elaborate further later, but for now, I just wanted to give you an update on what I’ve been doing.

I plan to continue writing; I find it helps me better understand development. Furthermore, I write for developers and dev teams. My hope is that these posts eventually lead to fruitful discussions that help me become a better developer. Lets see what happens...