Reading about Development

We had a new developer start about three months ago, and they've been a great hire. Meanwhile, I sat down to chat with them the other day, and they voiced the concern that the rest of the development team felt so much farther ahead than them, they weren't sure if they were doing a good job or not.

Three quick solutions to this one:

  1. At our regular check-ins, I ask the new dev to evaluate themself, so I have a better idea of how they feel things are going.
  2. I've suggested two books to read, if they were interested, with the explicit instruction they're allowed to skip them both.

A bachelor's degree doesn't give you experience, and often misses on a lot of topics that are incredibly useful to a web developer. A degree in computer science isn't ever intended to give you all the hands-on skills you'd need to work in any branch of development; I'd argue a software engineering degree, same issues.

That said, the short list of books was:

The Pragmatic Programmer. A terrific, well written guide to writing commercial software. I'd read this one first; it's shorter, and has a more conversational tone to it. It's an easy read, and - rarest of all tech books - it's actually a page turner. Whereas it does give code-level advice, it also advises you not to ask for budget for unpopular (but necessary) projects on Friday afternoons when it's raining.

Code Complete. A more in depth guide to writing better code. Instead of writing code to just accomplish a business goal, it gets you thinking about design, from class architecture to design patterns all the way down to whitespace.

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