Do Not Circumvent the Learning Process

For developers, it is important to build on our successes and learn from our mistakes so that we can avoid pitfalls and generally nurture our skill.  This may seem like a statement of the obvious, but it is critical to have comprehensive knowledge of the technologies we use every day.  It’s what allows us to write concise, secure code for our projects, and stay on deadline.  What’s not so obvious, is that developers have a strong community out there – developers helping developers. It’s fantastic, but it also makes it a little too easy to find a solution.

When my programming career was still in its infancy, we didn’t have Google (no, we didn’t have Google). Open source wasn’t a mainstream concept yet, there was no safety net in the form of sites like Stack Overflow, and there were no developer tools in the browser.  We had to hash out and debug our own code the old-fashioned way. We had to have comprehensive understanding of the technologies we were using. There was no safety net.

We must be mindful not to use the developer community as a means to circumvent the learning process.

Inevitably, we will encounter coding challenges that will push our boundaries. This is how we learn and grow.  As a developer, which method do you choose: do you grab a code reference book and read up on the methods/classes/whatever that will solve the challenge? Or, do you search a developer community site for a solution someone else hashed out?

While it can be convenient to rely on the developer community to assist when we are stuck on a coding problem, we must be mindful not to use it as a means to circumvent the learning process.  Choosing to grab a code reference and hashing out the solution yourself will not only save hours of searching online, but it could possibly put you in a position of posting solutions rather than asking for help.

I had an experience recently which, I’ll be honest, made me feel a bit ashamed. There is this one coding framework (which shall remain nameless) that I hadn’t taken the time to learn properly, and every time I encountered a challenge I knew it could solve, I immediately went to Google to find that elusive snippet of code someone else hashed out.  While I had implemented several snippets of code from this framework, I hadn’t grasped its true power. And I still spent excessive time integrating the solutions I found online into my own code. I was wasting time I could have spent just studying the framework.  I would bet I’m not the only one guilty of this.

Hashing out the solution yourself will not only save hours of searching online, but it could possibly put you in a position of posting solutions rather than asking for help.

As luck would have it, I was plugging around in an online tutorial when a few tasks using this elusive, but extremely powerful (as I would soon find out), framework came up on screen. At first I was apprehensive as this technology had been a bit of a thorn in my side. The few tutorials I completed turned out to be the most important 20 minutes of the decade. I am not exaggerating.

Since completing those handful of tasks, my eyes have been opened to how deceptively simple the framework was to code, but also how very powerful it was.  I truly wish I had taken the time months ago when I started encountering this code to learn it properly instead of Googling for a quick fix.

I sincerely encourage any developer, regardless of your skill level to consider spending your valuable time studying the code and hashing out solutions yourself instead of grabbing for a quick fix online. Don’t Google it, study it!

Aspire to be one of those developers who provides solutions.

Happy coding…

Cheryl Velez, Grumpy Bunny Dev

2 Replies to “Do Not Circumvent the Learning Process”

  1. You make a good point. Thanks to the internet, there is so much information out there, but maybe we relay on it too much. I am guilty of encountering a got merge error and grabbing a solution from stack overflow instead of understanding why I got the error in the first place.

    I think sharing more of our story, of when we fail, learned and found a solution can help to combat the “just Google it” mentality.

    1. Thanks for your comment!

      I agree, if we google for a solution, but don’t take the time to understand why it worked, or why we ended up with the problem in the first place, we will end up googling for the same solution potentially in the future. As developers, we should be disciplined enough to prioritize turning our failures into successes. That’s the only way we grow.

      “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man To fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”

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