Greetings, fellow travelers. Clark Kampfe here, pleased to meet you. In a previous life, I wasn’t a developer. I was a photojournalist in the North African country of Tunisia! Then I went to Dev Bootcamp, met and learned with some great people, and wrote a ton of code.
If you’re thinking about starting down the path to building your own computer creations, here’s a few observations from someone who was in your shoes a little over a year ago:
Writing is a Core Competency
While programming may ultimately be about the code, other tasks consume a greater portion of most developers’ time: maintaining documentation, designing program architecture, reviewing others’ code, and communicating with one’s team.
All of these tasks have one thing in common: they forego writing code for writing prose. If you are uncomfortable reading and writing enormous amounts of non-code text… you’re gonna have a bad time.
Syntax matters. Kinda.
Sure, get solid at syntax. Know the ins and outs of your chosen languages (you will be a polyglot – you have no option here), but don’t bother memorizing every last obscure bit or – gasp – bother with a cheatsheet. You have all of the internet at your fingertips, filled with encyclopedias for every language you could conceive of, living and dead. Syntax matters only only to the degree that it doesn’t impede your ability to approach the next point:
Managing Complexity is the Name of the Game
My grandfather, an evolutionary biologist, maintained that human beings were incapable of understanding anything for which we could not construct a model. Programming, I’d say, is just this: the construction and maintenance of models and their varied relationships. As programmers, it is our job to keep these relationships and their associated models simple, predictable, and useful to others. Though most people interact with our creations only when they sneak into physical form — clicks on a webpage, tapping an iPad, the beeps of a mobile notification — the greatest portion of what we do consists of managing the interactions of things that exist only as concepts: things like data, rules, and time.
If you’re a capable communicator and comfortable inhabiting a world where almost nothing you do physically exists, you probably have what it takes. Join us!
Reach out, let’s chat. I’d love to connect with you.
Twitter: @kilophoton Email: [email protected]