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Antonin J. (they/them)
Antonin J. (they/them)

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10ish Teeny-Tiny Resolutions To Become A Better Developer In 2019

Inpsired by the article 19 teeny-tiny resolutions for a happier 2019, I wanted to go through a list of some awesome small things you can do as a developer to be a better developer. This isn't a list of algorithms to learn, technology to tackle, etc. it's a list of things that hopefully won't take a huge amount of time but will help a good deal.

1. Take the FreeCodeCamp Accessibility Course

Accessibility is a HUGE deal. It's also pretty hot in the development community and a pretty big deal if you know what you're talking about. Not only that, but the course itself is pretty fast and won't change too much in regards to what you do, it'll just help you focus on using the correct HTML markup, teach you about new HTML markup for accessibility (I had no idea accesskey was a thing!), and overall, make you more aware of issues in regards to accessibility.

2. Catch up with an ex-colleague

When we leave jobs, it's sometimes very easy to simply move on completely from the people we've worked with, the environment there, and so on. But, I found it very instructive and helpful to catch-up with people I used to work with.

Aside from a fun social call (that I still highly recommend), keeping connections is pretty big for one's career. You never know when you'll be looking for new work or when you'll be looking for someone you know and trust to join your company.

Bonus points: that ex-colleague doesn't need to be a developer!

3. Clean your keyboard

Get some compressed air and blow all that junk out! Get a cotton swap and some alcohol, wipe down those keys. Or just look up how to do it. That keyboard probably needed some cleaning for quite a while.

4. Watch someone use an OS you're unfamiliar with or one that you hate and see why they like it

This may sound strange but I find it pretty important to listen to why people want to use one platform over another. I'm a Windows user but I've heavily used both Linux (Ubuntu + Arch) as well as MacOS. Knowing why users prefer one over another can also help empathize with your users and other developers.

Try this with web browsers as well if you've got the time. Why does someone use IE Edge? Or Firefox? Or why do people stick with Chrome?

5. Watch an online talk on a technology you have been interested in

Documentation tries to teach, and articles tend to either instruct (as in teach) or argue why you should use a technology. But if you want to get a glimpse of how the technology works, what it's used for, or how people write code using that tech, check out a talk.

Check out the Programming Talks repo for the cream of the crop

6. Learn about RSI (Repetitive Stress Injury)

In fact, learn more about how your health is impacted by the work you do. A few years back, I developed a pain in my wrists and forearms because I was using a keyboard that didn't work for me. At some point, it forced me to take breaks from work because my arms just hurt too much.

If you found yourself having back pains, wrist pains, or other pains after working, you might want to check out ways to improve your working environment into a healthier environment.

7. Learn 1 new power-user feature of your code editor

Learning all of an editor's power-user feature-set is really unreasonable but learning feature can help more than you'd expect.

I'm a VS Code user and one feature that I've learned about is that when I press Ctrl+F2 (on Windows) over a variable, I can edit the variable's name across all of its occurrences. I used to use Find & Replace which isn't precise enough and you can't just find/replace all occurrences.

There, if you have VS Code, you've already fulfilled this one.

8. Learn Flexbox or CSS Grid

I lied earlier. This is one technology I'd like to get you to learn. At least, if you're a web developer of any kind at least. Once you get the hang of it (and it won't take too long!), you'll find yourself using it everywhere.

I recently started prototyping a redesign for my site and flexbox + grid made that experience so much better. Here's the ever-changing result if you're interested.

I'm dropping some links here for you:

9. Publish a package

Doesn't matter what language of choice you use, go publish a package! If there is code that you tend to copy/paste between projects, no matter how small or simple, go make a package, publish it on your platform of choice, and start using it.

10. Enjoy the new year!


Wanna hear more from me? Follow me on Twitter or check out my personal blog.

Top comments (21)

ben profile image
Ben Halpern

Fabulous post. I think this stresses the need to survive and be healthy as software developers in the little ways. 3 and 6 get at this in ways that definitely need reminding.

antjanus profile image
Antonin J. (they/them)

Yep! I wanted to write another "resolution" encouraging others to find healthier snacks and drinks to eat while working.

I think we often neglect our health just because we're used to it and the stereotypical image of a developer doesn't help either: hunched over, hot pocket-eating, coffee-guzzling code machine glued to a chair.

y0mbo profile image
John Uhri

hey... coffee is life.

apol0x profile image

It would be great to read something about healthier snacks, because I don't think is good drink all the day a lot off coffe 😅

Thread Thread
george profile image
George Nance

You can't go wrong with fresh fruits and vegetables. I have recently started eating blueberries while I code. Its a perfect snack and its really low in calories.

Also green tea is a good replacement if you are trying to limit coffee. It still has caffeine too.

Thread Thread
antjanus profile image
Antonin J. (they/them)

Totally! I LOVE blueberries. I love fruits in general as a snack. Or nuts. Cashews are awesome. Better yet, cashews + berries. Tastes amazing.

I gotta try it! I just love the way coffee tastes.

codemouse92 profile image
Jason C. McDonald

I'm absolutely doing these this year! Well...except for the ones I've already done. If you don't mind my thinking aloud, here's how I'll tweak this for myself...

  1. Definitely taking that course! (Added it to my learn-list.)

  2. I'll have to search through my contacts, and see which colleagues I haven't talked with in a while. I could probably stand to reach out to more than one, but even one would be enough.

  3. Currently, my CODE keyboard is pretty clean, but I'll probably take it apart and give it a thorough cleaning somewhere this summer. Now to find where to leave that reminder...

  4. I'm actually a power user of Windows, Mac, AND Linux, and I know of the benefits of each, so this one is hard. Instead, I'll tweak it to learn more about Arch Linux, which is the distro I keep avoiding. (I'll finish learning Slackware first.)

  5. Ned Batchelder, one of my earliest coding mentors, has a bunch of talks I've been meaning to get around to. Time to add those to my learn-list!

  6. Already familiar with RSI. I've got a good chair/desk/keyboard setup that prevents that condition, and I take frequent typing breaks. I might invest in a good mousepad tho...

  7. I use VSCode, PyCharm, and Vim. I'll learn at least one feature of each. (Added to learn-list).

  8. Grid Garden and Flexbox Froggy were a lot of fun when I used them in late 2018. Still, if you learn it, but never use it, it isn't worth much. I often use Flexbox, but I'll have to add "use CSS grid on a website" to my list.

  9. I'm still sitting on my dicebox project, which could use a slight refactor and official release. No more stalling - I'll do it!

  10. This one is actually harder than it looks, as I struggle with a generalized anxiety disorder. However, I signed up for, which I highly recommend, so I'll be addressing that in the new year. If I do, 2019 might turn out to be a pretty good year after all.

jmutawa profile image
Jalal Almutawa • Edited

4. I'm actually a power user of Windows, Mac, AND Linux, and I know of the benefits of each, so this one is hard.

You may want to look for non-mainstream OSes then, like Haiku and 9front, or venture into the BSDs to see how they are different from each other and from GNU/Linux.

codemouse92 profile image
Jason C. McDonald • Edited

Good idea!

You'll be glad to know, FreeBSD is already on my list - I've got a book on it, and I want to know more. The Linux/BSD communities seem to follow some of the same cultural faultline as the FSF/OSI split.

I've also done some playing around with IBM OS/2 Warp. I'll have to find some more to try out, just for fun.

jwollner5 profile image
John 'BBQ' Wollner

Don't necessarily agree with all of it but thought provoking all the same. Thx!

antjanus profile image
Antonin J. (they/them)

They're ideas! Pick and choose which ones vibe with you.

What do you disagree with? 😁

wuddupdok profile image
Alex Goodwin

I for one will have a hard time separating from the nostalgic grime in my keyboard 😁

martinnyagah profile image
Martin • Edited

The Small things that we neglect..

jmurray90 profile image
Jake Murray

What a great post. Thanks!

janacm profile image
janac meena

Better than expected

edetscript profile image
Abednego Edet

These reminders are coming when I need them. Really timely,

Good man :)

keshav0129 profile image
Keshav Shrivastava

Loved this article. All great points but RSI and publishing code are definitely going to be in my 2k19 resolution list. Thank you!

antjanus profile image
Antonin J. (they/them)

That's awesome!

mariocd10 profile image
Mario DeLaPaz

Awesome Post! I'm already going to add a few on my resolutions list. Trying to improve myself as a dev and person this year!

burdettelamar profile image
Burdette Lamar

Thanks, Antonin, for these reminders. I'd add:

  • Learn a few more keyboard shortcuts for your main app (in my case, and IDE).