Never Stop Learning

Before I get into the real topic of this blog entry, I want to start with the premise of learning. A good developer, WordPress or not, never stops learning. Whether it is a new piece of code, a new code language, or just a new piece of software to hopefully make their workflow better. Learning is key and should happen on a regular basis, time limiting. I know it isn’t easy to meet deadlines and learn, so just make sure you are on a regular schedule and set aside time every day/week/month to get some learning in. This is super crucial, and I think what sets apart the high level developers, because they are not just willing to learn something new, they consider it an amazing opportunity for a quest (or challenge) to do so.

Leverage What You Know

At WordCamp Los Angeles 2015 I gave a talk about “Level’ing up” as a developer, or taking your skills and your passion up a notch.

It was pretty well received as it was a mix of “you should do this” and a glimpse into my life as a web developer and my journey from a broke college student to a Senior Level Developer working for Disney. One thing I made sure to bring up was leveraging what you know when you wanted to learn something new. In my example I talked about how I wanted to learn AngularJS and I knew the best way for me to learn something like that was to leverage something I already knew for a data source, enter WordPress. I knew WordPress already, but more importantly decided it was key to leverage it and focus my learning on AngularJS and let something I already knew be a stepping stone or platform to jump off of.

This is when I talk about “The Dip”, which Greg Douglas my business partner on coined talking about dips of finances as a freelancer. I took the term to mean the low point when learning something new, and we both agreed you had to get through it as efficiently as possible. Leveraging what you know to learn something new, is the fastest and best way to get through a learning “dip”.

Forget Everything I Just Wrote/Said

Okay not really, but one thing I brought up as a side not during my talk is my wanting to learn PhpStorm, a code editor/IDE that has been the hit rage. At the time, I was an avid CODA & Sublime user, which was the first tool I used outside of Dreamweaver MANY moons ago. I never did, I installed PhpStorm, used it for 1 day, and went back to Coda as I had some deadlines I had to meet.  This wasn’t the only thing I wanted to learn, I also wanted to pick up and learn Vagrant, but my MAMP and ServerPress combo were doing me justice.

never stop learning

This past week, I decided it was time. Luckily for me I just took on a great new role within Disney working in the Disney Interactive. Not just did they not use MAMP or ServerPress, they used vagrant, so I had no choice but to figure out how it worked. I decided to do one more thing. Not use Coda.

This is where “using what you know” went out the window. I didn’t install Coda on my new machine at all, in fact I installed PhpStorm again, got our vagrant install running, and then just sat there with no clue how to get anything cool to work.

Leveraging Google & Friends

This is where things got really tricky, if you go back to my presentation I talk a bit about GoogleFu or being able to Google wisely. I was Google’ing left and right to figure out why PHP breakpoints, the coolest feature (I have discovered so far) about PhpStorm was not working. I began to learn all these new things that never really came up as ServerPress and MAMP just worked, like Xdebug. How to install, and turn on Xdebug specifically for a vagrant environment. Tied into all of this was also learning Vagrant, how it works, how to SSH into a VM once I had it running, all new to me!

When Google was not answering, Josh P. and Chris W. did, while I made sure to Google everything I could first, sometimes I just didn’t know what to Google anymore, so knowledgeable people come in handy.

Ripping it Off

So I guess the conclusion of my story is that, while you should leverage when you can, sometimes you can’t. Or more so, sometimes you shouldn’t. If you are putting off learning something especially workflow related, sometimes its best to just rip off the bandaid, and ONLY use what you want to learn till you find its true value. I may give up PhpStorm after realizing after 6 months I’d be more efficient with Coda, and that is the risk I need to talk to always learn. Sometimes you learn something and once you know it, you never use it again.

What have you learned lately?
Did you rip off the band-aid or tip your toe in?