Developer Resolutions for 2010

I am, to put it mildly, not a fan of the typical New Year’s resolution. Generally, it’s much too vague, it runs over much too long a time scale, and it’s not supported by appropriate subgoals (monthly, weekly, and daily). In effect, they’re feel-good affirmations, but they’ve got no teeth.

I’m always optimistic about well-structured and supported resolutions, however, and the start of a new year is the second-best time to launch them (the best time, of course, is today). Think of these as overarching priorities that can help guide your shorter-term planning efforts throughout the year to come; as you sit down at the beginning of every month, week, and day, these resolutions provide a framework to fit projects and tasks into.

So, without further ado, here are some suggested New Year’s resolutions for developers:

Have a new year

The "years of experience" requirement that so many HR departments rely on is bunk; we’ve all met developers who’ve been working continuously for a decade, but they’ve not grown at all. In effect, they’ve repeated the same year (or month, even) of experience over and over. Make a commitment that this year will be different!

Learn a new technology

The technical world presents boundless opportunities to learn, from new languages (as the Prags suggest), to new frameworks and applications. My personal pick for the most exciting area of development at the moment is the alternative database (e.g., NoSQL) scene, but there are changes afoot everywhere.

Practice your craft

The best way to improve at something is to practice deliberately – work at a task specifically designed to help you improve, pay careful attention to your results, and modify your performance appropriately when repeating the task. Note that this isn’t the same as, say, starting a side-project to learn a new web framework. If your goal is something other than pure practice, then you won’t actually be practicing.

Contribute to the community

There’s always a problem out there to be tackled, so start a new open-source project or contribute to one that already exists.

Test your JavaScript

OK, this one’s a bit more specific than the others, but let’s face it: most people don’t test their JavaScript. There’s been a surge of development in testing tools over the past year, so isn’t it about time you took a look at some of them?

Happy New Year!

Ben Scofield

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