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Random Acts of Programming Kindness

03/20/15

To you people who share how you did some little bit of this or that in AngularJS, MVC.Net, or some other technology, I have one thing to say: Thank You.

There’s only 1 week left in my Coder Foundry Master Class, so of course we are all burning the midnight oil on our final project. It’s a budgeting application that incorporates many of the technologies we’ve learned. It combines a n ASP.NET Web API back end and an AngularJS front end.

It doesn’t contain any complex programming feats, but it’s extremely challenging nonetheless as we are applying a design pattern and development tools that are still new to us. We’ve been working on it for 2 weeks so far, and at first I felt it would be impossible to complete by the end of class, but now it’s coming together and I think I can do it. The transition from impossible to possible hinged on what are essentially random acts of kindness by other programmers, and it’s far from the first time that’s happened.

During the course of this training program I’ve really come to appreciate the generosity of the programming community. I’m sitting here in a full-time class with expert instructors, but they don’t sit beside me and hold my hand while I work through a project (okay, occasionally they do), and they certainly don’t come home with me at night where I do more of the same. The online programming community does both.

I’m not just talking about the people who make big, awesome (and free) contributions like publishing entire documented libraries and modules, or write documentation for open source projects. I’m also indebted to people who answer questions on Stack Overflow or amend other answers, (especially when you include an explanation or add an update to reflect a newer version of software). I’m also appreciative of the people who go ahead and post their programming problems there, because questions can be greeted a little harshly if they aren’t worded just right or don’t include enough detail. But those who risk it provide the foundation for a mother lode of technical answers for the rest of us. Please keep doing it!

How-to articles and snippets written by individuals, which are in plentiful supply, are also priceless. I don’t know if the people who post these realize how appreciated they are. I’m telling you now, you’re very appreciated - please keep the instruction coming! Just because you are not the first to write on a particular topic doesn’t mean your post isn’t needed. For example, as an AngularJS newbie, I needed help implementing paging in an app. I started with an example in an (otherwise awesome) book I have, but that code did not work in my application. Lacking enough Angular know-how to understand why yet,  a-Googling I went. I encountered a bounty of postings detailing how to implement paging in AngularJS. I went through several before finding one I could follow as well as implement.

There are at least 20 ways to do anything in software development, and that was clearly reflected in the plethora of advice on paging.  We all think a little (or a lot) differently and have different knowledge-bases to draw on, so an article that sets my head spinning, could instantly snap things into place for someone else. For me, this time, the magic came from this tutorial bit by Prashobh PS, which could also be titled “AngularJS Paging For People Who Don’t Know What They’re Doing Yet”

I’ve also found my classmates to be extremely generous with their time and know-how. When stuck on something during the day, they’re often the first people I turn to. Sometimes it feels rather like the blind leading the blind, but many times they have that little kernel of knowledge that enables me to solve my immediate problem. 

I can only conclude that software developers worldwide are by and large a very generous bunch, and I’m pleased to be part of such a giving profession.

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Comments

On 03/21/15 David.Jolly said:
Good post! I've also noticed the generosity of the development and other online communities. I've benefitted from it myself, on many occasions. So much so that I feel like I should give back to the community. Unfortunately, I can't think of any way or, more accurately, any "where" to contribute. Someday, maybe, but not yet. Speaking of posting to Stack Overflow, I used to wonder why some folks seemed so snarky. Then, I read a really eye-opening piece by Eric Steven Raymond, called "how to ask questions the smart way". You can find it at catb.org. Believe me, I will re-read This piece before I post anything to any forum.
On 07/25/15 ejamesr said:
Anne, this looks very clean, very sharp. I'm just finishing Week 3 of the Masters Bootcamp, going thru what you completed a few months ago. Hope to figure things out like you did!

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