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Ben Ramsey:
Learning a New Codebase
September 18, 2014 @ 09:38:51

In a new post to his site Ben Ramsey shares a few suggestions around things to ask and do to learn a new codebase (whether that means in a new job or coming into a new open source project).

A few days ago, my friend Ed Finkler started a new job. Earlier this week, he posted on Twitter: "First days humble us all." Having begun a new job myself, I shared Ed's sentiment. Last weekend, while at the Madison PHP Conference, we were discussing what developers can do during the interview process to get an idea of the kind of codebase a company has.

He includes a few questions for developers to ask, either during the interview or once hired, about the codebase itself including:

  • what coding standards the company follows
  • how much of the code is covered by tests
  • have the company's deployment process described

He also recommends learning the codebase by diving in and either writing tests for untested areas or work through bug reports and fix (then test) them.

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Link: http://benramsey.com/blog/2014/09/learning-a-new-codebase/

Reddit.com:
Which is a better way to learn PHP?
September 09, 2014 @ 15:54:59

In the /r/PHP community on Reddit there's a discussion going on about the best way to learn PHP. The op wonders:

Now a days there are numerous PHP Framework popping out and being fully supported, just to put it straight. Should i jump on one of those like CI, etc. and forget about doing a native code? I'm a new in PHP and now i'm confused which to choose.

There's lots of good answers to the questions with people leaning both ways. Suggestions include:

  • "The answer is that you should do both raw php programming as well as get familiar with frameworks. This might sound like a copout, but it's really not."
  • "I would agree with the others that it's best to learn the basics of PHP first. Understand PHP and its various constructs, particularly if you're a new programmer."
  • "PHP frameworks ARE PHP. [...] Regardless, frameworks are generally pretty advanced PHP, and may be hard to get into without a good grounding in PHP generally, and OOP specifically."
  • "Learn PHP. You might be able to make a site if all you do is focus on a particular framework, but by focusing on learning to use the language itself you'll be able to switch from one framework to another. "
  • "If you don't have at least some understanding of the basics, learning a framework to start off it a bit of overkill and may or may not actually help you much. I think it's hard to appreciate what a good framework does for you if you don't have a fair understanding of how things are often done without one."

Have some thoughts of your own? Check out the full post and share them!

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Link: http://www.reddit.com/r/PHP/comments/2frwdy/which_is_a_better_way_to_learn_php/

Jani Hartikainen:
In order to become a better developer, you must first become a teacher
August 18, 2014 @ 10:35:28

In his latest post Jani Hartikainen makes a recommendation for those wanting to become better developers: first become a teacher. He suggests that communication is the second most important skill a developer can have.

What is the most important skill for a developer besides actually writing code? Communication. What do you typically do when you communicate as a developer with someone else? You explain problems, you describe solutions, you talk to non-programmers about what you're doing. You could also say that you're teaching others about what you're doing. [...] Being a good communicator is often completely overlooked.

He looks at why it's important for a developer to have good communication skills and what it means to "communicate well" with fellow developers. He suggests that real teaching can start when developers understand the domain and code they're working with. He also talks about the flip side of things, the importance of listening to other developers and those trying to help. Listening well means understanding the question and being open to different ideas, even if they contradict your own.

As with all aspects of programming, the best way to improve communication and your ability to reason about code on a higher level is practice.
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Link: http://codeutopia.net/blog/2014/08/18/in-order-to-become-a-better-developer-you-must-first-become-a-teacher/

Brandon Savage:
Frameworks DO matter.
May 26, 2014 @ 10:51:15

In his latest post Brandon Savage follows up his previous post (about learning the language first) that points out that frameworks are important/useful but they shouldn't be the focus.

In writing about how the framework you learn doesn't matter, I hoped to advance a position that articulated the fact that among the many frameworks, picking the right one is less important than getting a solid grasp on the underlying language. In fact, frameworks have tremendous advantages to them. They take care of a great deal of things for us, things that most applications need and nobody wants to write every time they need it. Frameworks are tremendously helpful.

He points out that learning a framework first and depending on it for common functions limits your skills and hinders you from the power of the language (PHP) itself. He suggests that it's not a "language or framework" debate, but more of a "language then framework" perspective.

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Link: http://www.brandonsavage.net/frameworks-do-matter

Brandon Savage:
The framework you learn doesn't really matter
May 20, 2014 @ 09:21:50

In this new post to his site Brandon Savage suggests that you don't learn any particular framework - learn PHP first, then move up from there.

Towards the end of my talk at phpDay in Verona, I was asked by two developers which framework I thought they should learn: Symfony or Laravel. I understand the pressure that developers feel like they're under to learn a framework, and to somewhat "predict the future" by figuring out what is likely to be popular in PHP for the next few years. But my answer to them wasn't what they expected. I told them that if they were new to PHP, that they should focus on learning PHP.

He notes that while frameworks can make it easier to get up and running more quickly, they can also make "tribes" if there's not a solid foundation in the language first. If the developer knows the language first, they can move into any framework and with limited effort pick it up and run with it. PHP frameworks come and go, and learning just one can limit you future when its popularity fades.

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Link: http://www.brandonsavage.net/the-framework-you-learn-doesnt-really-matter

KillerPHP.com:
Why PHP should be the first language you learn
February 13, 2014 @ 10:43:46

On the KillerPHP.com site there's a new post from Stefan Mischook where he suggests that PHP is the first language you should learn if you're new to development.

Anyone who reads my stuff knows that if I am anything, I am practical. So when it comes to learning (and teaching) programming to someone new to the whole programming game, for several pragmatic reasons, I think PHP by far is the best language to begin with. Here are some of the reasons: it is easy to learn, it is the most popular web scripting language and it is fast to program with.

He shares these thoughts and a few more in a short video (or here on YouTube).

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Link: http://www.killerphp.com/articles/why-php-should-be-the-first-language-you-learn

QaFoo:
Learn OOD - to unlearn it again
February 11, 2014 @ 12:52:10

In this latest post to the QaFoo blog Tobias Schlitt recommends learning proper object-oriented design first before trying to worry about the interactions between the objects.

One topic we regularly teach in workshops for our customers is object oriented design (ODD), i.e. the art of crafting classes/interfaces in a way that the result is an easy-to-understand, maintainable and flexible code base. With the agile focus on shipping working software, some might consider the skill of OOD less important. One popular argument is that quick reaction to change is more important than designing objects and their interaction carefully. I personally look at it the exact other way around. This blog post summarizes why you need to learn OOD first, in order to avoid it to some degree again.

He's broken up the rest of the post into a few different topics reinforcing this idea:

  • Learning OOD the classical way
  • OOD in fast pace and agile
  • Refactoring is the key
  • Learning OOD to unlearn it

Finally, he makes the recommendation that all developers should learn about effective refactoring and automated testing to help create well-structured OOP applications.

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Link: http://qafoo.com/blog/064_learn_ood_to_unlearn_it.html

SitePoint Programming Blog:
What is the Best Programming Language to Learn in 2014?
February 07, 2014 @ 10:44:59

On the SitePoint Programming blog today Craig Buckler has published a new post with some suggestions as to which programming language is the best to learn in 2014. The results come from a compilation of job postings and popularity, but it's interesting none the less.

It's been a year since I revealed the best languages to learn in 2013. Once again, I've examined the data produced by Jobs Tractor who analyzed more than 45,000 developer jobs advertised on Twitter during the past twelve months. [...] Take this survey with a large pinch of salt. Then add pepper, ketchup and numerous other condiments. I'm not convinced Twitter is a reliable source of job-related data and regional differences can skew results.

The results of surveys from other outside sources are also included, showing slight variations compared to Craig's numbers. Most of the languages are the same but their orders are pretty different depending on who you ask. Of course, he does make one major recommendation about all of these results: "Never use statistics as the sole basis for learning a language."

If you've mastered a language or two, the choice is far simpler: pick something that interests you (intellectually or financially). Programming skills are transferable and the learning curve will be shallower when learning a new language compared to when you first started.
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Link: http://www.sitepoint.com/best-programming-language-learn-2014/

Mashable.com:
10 Programming Languages You Should Learn in 2014
January 23, 2014 @ 12:09:46

According to this new post over on the Mashable site, PHP is one of the "languages to learn" for 2014. Others in the list include Java, C and relatives, Python and Ruby.

The tech sector is booming. If you've used a smartphone or logged on to a computer at least once in the last few years, you've probably noticed this. As a result, coding skills are in high demand, with programming jobs paying significantly more than the average position. Even beyond the tech world, an understanding of at least one programming language makes an impressive addition to any resumé.

They point out that PHP powers more than 200 million websites all around the internet and shares a few links of places to learn more about the language (including Udemy and Codeacademy).

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Link: http://mashable.com/2014/01/21/learn-programming-languages

Stefan Koopmanschap:
How to Get the Most Out of a Conference
November 01, 2013 @ 12:49:51

Stefan Koopmanschap recently posted a great new article about how you can get the most out of conferences and what they have to offer besides just the sessions.

At the most excellent PHPNW conference, Kat convinced me to deliver the first unconference talk of the day. It took me a while to get the right topic. I ended up with a topic I felt everyone at the conference could use for the rest of the two days that they were there: How to get the most out of a conference. For those that were not there, I want to try and put my unconference talk into a blogpost, so that everyone can use this information for their next conference.

He's broken it down into a few different major topics including the obvious "learn from the best" as well as:

  • Learn and meet the best
  • Find your new colleagues (or new friends)
  • The backchannels
  • Hack away! (at hackathons)

He also makes a great recommendation about providing feedback - not only is it important to the conference to let them know they've done a good job, but also to the speakers to help improve their skills.

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Link: http://leftontheweb.com/blog/2013/10/25/How_to_get_the_most_out_of_a_conference/


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