Simon Willison’s Weblog

13 items tagged “programmers”

Why do programmers tend to fall in love with non-mainstream languages?

Just because something is popular doesn’t mean it’s right for every person, every problem or every situation. If no one ever explored non-mainstream options, better solutions would never be discovered.

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What is the best resource for someone who is non-technical to learn about computer programming/creating software?

Learn to program. You don’t need to learn programming to the standard where you could work professionally as a software engineer, but having enough programming knowledge to write some simple programs and automate some simple tasks will make you enormously more capable when it comes to working with programmers—or in business life in general.

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How can I become a world-class coder in under three years?

Write code. Lots of code. Code that does stuff.

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Are there any sites/services that you can subscribe to where you can watch a developer code “Live”?

The Ludum Dare game development contest sometimes has contestants that livestream—Notch (the creator of Minecraft) has done so in the past.

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How do you become a good programmer?

In my experience new programmers progress a LOT faster if they’re learning with a higher level dynamic language such as Python or Ruby than if they only use C++ or Java. That’s not to say it isn’t a good idea to learn Java/C++ (though I’d encourage you to learn C as a lower-level language) but you may find you pick up programming concepts a whole bunch faster with a language that has a good interactive prompt.

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In which programming language do programmers get paid the most?

The best (and best paid) software engineers work in multiple languages, and pick new ones up as and when they need to. If you pigeon-hole yourself as an “X programmer” you’ll limit yourself to relatively uninteresting, interchangeable roles.

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How do I really learn coding?

Build real websites. Find a project and work on it. A personal blog is a great project as it can be simple to start with and get more complex over time.

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What are the best practices for onboarding new software engineers?

I’m a huge fan of “deploy on the first day”—which forces the issue in getting all of their accounts set up, their development environment ready, showing them where source control is, how code review works and so on. Even if it’s just adding themselves to the about page or humans.txt file, it means they can come in on day two ready to get real work done.

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What communities and interest groups in London should software developers get involved in?

The monthly Hacker News London Meetup Group (held near Old Street) is a great opportunity to meet up with entrepreneurial-minded hackers—the talks are usually a good combination of technical and startup/entrepreneur material, and it attracts a really interesting crowd.

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What’s the difference between a software engineer, developer and programmer?

Absolutely nothing. Job title differences like those only really matter when working for a large organisation that sets compensation based on title—in which case you want to figure out which title gets you the best deal at that particular company.

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What are good 2012 Technology Conferences in US for Programmers?

It would help if you were more specific about the kind of programmer you are—there’s a big difference between C++ game developer conferences, Ruby on Rails events, Agile methodology conventions etc. Each developer ecosystem has its own flagship events (for Microsoft developers it’s the BUILD conference, which hasn’t been announced for 2012 yet—for iPhone/Mac developers it’s Apple’s WWDC, Oracle have Oracle OpenWorld, the Rails community has RailsConf, for Django people it’s DjangoCon US and EU, etc).

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Understanding Engineers: Feasibility. Charles Miller provides smart definitions of what programmers mean when they say “impossible”, “trivial”, “unfeasible”, “non-trivial”, “hard” and “very hard”. # 17th July 2007, 10:24 am

Web Focus Leads Newspapers to Hire Programmers for Editorial Staff. It’s great to see this trend taking off. A newsroom is an excellent place to work as a programmer. # 8th March 2007, 12:27 am