Joggers jogging in a field.

Developer Fitness

Published on by David A. Kennedy

When you take on a physical challenge, like a marathon, you have to train. You prepare your legs and mind to accomplish what you set out to do. You can’t just jump in cold and expect to do well.

Yet, as web workers, we go to work each day and dive into many new challenges without much preparation. Yes, we’ve built this type of interface or hooked up to that kind of API, but on the web, while the principles stay the same the methods change. How do we keep up and make sure we’re ready to run the race?

We have to keep our developer fitness level as high as we can. How? Well, I’ll list a handful of things that have worked for me and a few others I’d like to try soon.

Contribute to an Open Source Project

I help out the WordPress project in a few ways and love it. I’ve meet new friends and learned new things. Plus, I’ve had more practice in finding reasonable compromises to tough problems. Find a project that inspires you and get going.

Create Something Simple

I gave a talk about a workflow for testing for web accessibility with free tools at a conference recently. I wanted attendees to have access to the links and information I spoke about, so I created a simple website to house all the resources. It marked the first project I used Grunt, Sass and a few other newish front end development tools. The simplicity kept me focused on learning, not perfecting the project.

Build a Wall

When I landed a new job at Automattic recently, the company bought me a new work computer. I also needed a new personal machine since the one I had was more than six-years-old. So I bought a stock Apple 11-inch Macbook Air and refused to install any web development software on it. Except for ImageOptim, which I use to compress images before uploading them to my blog, you won’t find any dev tools. This has forced me to do more than just write code in my free time. I’m writing more here and reading more, things I wasn’t doing much of before the wall.

Branch Out

At a recent company meetup with Automattic, I watched many of my colleagues give flash talks. These four-minute presentations ranged from technical to silly to personal. Many of them gave me a glimpse of the hobbies my co-workers find interesting, many of which have nothing to do with technology. It made me realize that the main hobbies I have: open source projects and video games are a bit boring. So I want to try a new creative hobby to help stretch my developer fitness in new ways. Maybe the guitar – I once tried to learn to play.

How do you keep your developer fitness up?

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Tagged Front End DevelopmentWeb Development