Developing Like a 2 Year Old

If you didn’t know already, I’ve got a 2 year old daughter. A 2 year old is 5 parts wonderful, and 5 parts a pain in the ass. For all the naughty things they do to push the limits, they do things that are absolutely awesome.

One of the main objectives of my daughter lately has been to do things herself. She feels she can get dressed, do puzzles, put on her coat, and a myriad of other things all by herself with no help from Daddy or Mommy.

It’s Done, but…

When it comes to getting dressed, she actually does pretty good. She get’s the shirt over her head, and arms in the holes. Pants go on and legs are in the holes. Socks get on with just a little effort.

The problem is that some or all of it is backwards. We’ve accomplished the goal of keeping her warm as well as the goal of making sure she’s not naked when others come, but it’s not quite right.

Not only is it just a bit off, it takes a long long time. See I can tell her it’s backwards or on the wrong way, but actually touch NO WAY. On top of that every so often the frustration of someone saying it’s the wrong way is overwhelming, and a total melt down ensues.

The Starting Programmer

As I’ve watched her then gone about my daily work (building sites with WordPress) I’m reminded of when I started development.

As with many beginning developers, I was not charging much and I just didn’t know what I didn’t know. I didn’t even have a framework to ask a question with sometimes.

During this time, things got done but when I’ve been back in the code, it’s just a bit off (and that may be gracious). Back then I had a few issues:

  1. I couldn’t afford to pay someone else to help me
  2. I thought I was so smart and didn’t need any help anyway

So things got done, but there were also tantrums. There were times I was on a deadline and still had no solution, and didn’t know what to even ask so I could solve the issue. I was near tears more than once and stressed to no end. But I never even thought about hiring out the work. No I couldn’t have paid for it anyway, but it never crossed my mind to get some help.

I could do it myself.

I was a 2 year old developer.

Grown Up Developer, Well I Hope So

Part of growing up as a developer was knowing the things I could not tackle on a project. Recently I had to do some stuff with the WordPress rewrite rules. It started as a basic thing, and then got pretty complex.

Now learning is part of development. If I just stopped every time I wasn’t quite sure how to do something, I would never be the developer I am today. There is a point when it’s past learning and your approaching the point where you no longer have a framework to even ask a question. I also firmly believe that if you look at 1 year old code and don’t cringe just a bit, you’re not learning much.

After an afternoon trying to accomplish the more complex task I decided that my time was worth more than mindless hacking away. I mean there was no progress and I still didn’t have a clear framework to even start to solve the problem.

Instead of just hacking around till I was in tears at the wasted time, I hired the work out to @bradyvercher to do the job. Well 2 days later the work was done right, the first time. I was happy and my client was happy.

The grown up thing was to get help, so I did.

Grow Up Yourself

So when your stuck don’t just hack around till you’re fed up and about to crack. Find someone you can trust to help. This is a solid endorsement for @bradyvercher if you need some complex rewrite stuff, he did right by me.

Now when I look at a complex feature, I simply decide if I can make more money learning/building it or doing something else. If I have other work to do and know someone that I can get to do the work for me, I contract it out.

See it’s about knowing what you don’t know. Then find someone that does know it, and let them do it. Not only will your life be much less stressful, but you’re going to make great contacts that will pass along work in the same way.

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