Improving Your Developer Skills

November 22, 2010


Improving Your Developer Skills

I’ve been asked twice this week by two different colleagues from where toImproving your Developer Knowledge start in order to improve yourself as a developer. This question is very tricky and probably you’ll hear a different answer from every person you ask it. Also, in reality the “recipes” you get won’t necessary work for every person but they can be guidelines for improvement. This is a short version of my recipe and what I told my colleagues.

Read Books

This is an important thing to do when you want to improve yourself. If you want to learn something, a book in that area can help you to find all the details in one place. The problem is finding a good book to read which can become a very difficult thing to do. If you have friends that can recommend a book then probably it is a good one (cause you trust your friends (-: ). In the last half a year I read six different development books and they contributed a lot to my skills.

Test Yourself

One of the things that lead me to my current position and knowledge was my MCPD certification. Since I wanted to test my knowledge, I went to those certification exams. I’m not saying that it’s a must for everyone but signing to an exam can force you to sit down and to learn the materials. Of course if you use brain dumps you will gain nothing out of the test and I didn’t use brain dumps in the learning process. When you pass a certification you can be sure that you understand some portion of the materials the exam checked.


Practice can lead to perfection. This statement isn’t a joke. If you don’t practice what you are learning you gain nothing. One part of my current job is a .Net instructor in Sela College. When I’m delivering a course I’m giving a lot of weight to lab practices. In the last course I delivered, when the labs started a few of the students just picked up their stuff and went home. When the course’s test came they failed and the students that stayed and practiced passed. The moral of this story is that with no hands-on (and of course with no study) you can’t succeed in the real world tests.

Blogs, Magazines and Development Sites

Every day I’m reading a few Blogs that I like. Also, if I can I read an article in on-line magazines and development sites. This is helping me to stay updated with technologies and with other people suggestions and thoughts. The problem is finding the better ones from the flood of sites and blogs in the internet. In that case again you can ask your colleagues what they are reading.


There are many other things like taking a mentor, working in a supporting company environment, lecturing and instructing (which force you to learn a lot in order to know what you are talking about) and more which can help you to improve your skills. When you start doing those things it won’t guaranty that you improve in the short time but it will indicate that you are passionate for your profession and in the long run you will gain a lot.

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  1. Michael BNovember 23, 2010 ב 6:24

    Books are very much at the end of the curve because before a book is written and released the technology has to prove itself first. Now sure there are quite some books that don’t lose their value over time since they contain concepts that will stick around, however I do see six of them a year being released. I’d say one if your lucky.

    You better off studying code bases and monitoring effectiveness of the choices made by the designer. Being able to quickly familiarize yourself with a large code base is a skill you need anyway if you can also learn some new technology then thats a bonus. Also it allows you to learn to spot the ones that are more likely to be successful.

    Testing yourself is always a good idea as it keeps you honest, also being able to do something and explaining what you do and why you did it in a clear matter are two different beasts, which is an important thing to recognize as software that gets used is never build by one person. Be it that one person can only do so much in so much time or by the fact that they can always get hit by a bus on their way to work.

    Hands-on is great and all but I’m not sure if it’s entirely fair to weigh it twice, having a test scores that correlate strongly with hands on experience and weighing labs heavily sounds like they can get away with little theoretical knowledge which is the other end of the spectrum. If the test is heavily leaning on practical knowledge then you don’t have to weigh the lab more heavily.

    For students I recommend going to user group conferences, as they get special rates. Knowledge is very current and sometimes your also get to shot some questions at the guy who actually wrote (part of) the software.

  2. Gil FinkNovember 23, 2010 ב 7:37

    Hi Michael,

    Thanks for your insight.
    I didn’t put books reading at the beginning to indicate it is the most important. The mix of all the things I wrote is important not one thing over another.
    About studying code bases as you wrote, I agree. To see what people do or how did they implemented a successful framework can help you a lot (or in other cases can be very harmful if the framewrok is implemented badly). For example, I used to look at the Enterprise Library base code for an example for best practices and it helped me to understand a lot of concepts.

  3. nikos lianerisNovember 23, 2010 ב 20:47

    totally agree with your sayings!reading and practicing are a must in our job! 🙂