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The Importance of Staying Fluent

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Many career programmers are lazy. Perhaps not with their code, but they can certainly be lazy in a company that makes them comfortable. I have a job that could certainly do that to me. Every day I am expected to work on the web in languages like PHP and ASP with a dash of Javascript here and there. But what about my knowledge of desktop programming? What about VB, C++ and C#? Unfortunately my company does not want those skills. However, that is not a good enough reason to let those skills rust!

Another trait programmers have is falling in love. Falling in love you ask? Yes, we love our code and what it can do for us. We usually fall in love with one style of programming and one language above the others. This is because it is familiar and again, comfortable. It really is a struggle to make sure you stay on top of the programming world of other languages. Each week I try to dabble in a little bit of each language. When it comes to an idea for a program I also ask myself "Should I code this in C#? I haven't done that language in awhile, maybe I should do the project in that just to make sure I haven't forgotten how to do it."

Many of you programmers are probably saying to yourself "oh I don't have to worry about losing my skills, once you program in one language for awhile going to the others is like riding a bike, I can pick it back up again in a matter of a few days." Don't let this mind set fool you! Just the other day I decided to code a quick listbox in VB.NET and had forgotten the proper way to loop through its choices using a for loop. Needless to say I actually had to crack open a book and look it up. Of course once I saw it I felt stupid since it came to memory before I even finished the second sentence. It is very easy to forget such things when your focus is on another syntax.

If I can give you one important piece of advice it is too stay fluent with every language you know. Try to code the same thing in one or two languages. Maybe find something online that is coded in Java and see if you can do it in C#. You can expand your mind and your skill set instead of letting them rot. You don't want to wake up and be asking yourself "They asked me how to code this project in C++.... now where did I place that beginners book?"

If you want more blog entries like this, check out the official blog over on The Coders Lexicon. There you will find more code, more guides and more resources for programmers of all skill levels!

5 Comments On This Entry

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25 August 2007 - 11:25 PM
I Think It's Really Great Idea .. I always want to know more about another languages !!
Thanks Martyr2 :^:


26 August 2007 - 12:46 PM
Staying fluent is especially important in today's world. And what a better place to stay fluent than DIC?


26 August 2007 - 02:04 PM
You are certainly right. DIC is a great place to stay current and that is what I love to do here. I also enjoying participating on another boards too. I think various different sources are important too. Thanks for the comments!


26 August 2007 - 06:54 PM
Very seldom does the programming we like to do and the programing we have to do coincide. I wish more companies were like Google with the 20% time, but many are more interested in you becoming an expert at their software than being a well-rounded programmer, so you're mostly on your own in that regard (unless you find a good company). I try to read up on a new language or framework once a month and do some simple programs in them for fun. I'd do it more often, but I'm taking graduate classes. This month I looked at The Google Web Toolkit and used the new SuggestBox feature along with the GWT RPC mechanism. I also looked at Ruby on Rails, which is pretty cool, but had to dismiss it because it's just not something I'd ever use given my propensity toward Java (and the fact that my hosting provider won't install Ruby). On the heels of that dismissal, however, I am looking at Groovy on Grails which seems like a good replacement that will also leverage my Java technology. I also dabbled with Dojo, but am waiting until the 0.9 release docs are finished to really dig in. On the flip side, Java is such a huge domain that staying on top of it and all of the frameworks is a challenge. At some point, if you want to be a "guru" in something you have to specialize. I chose to specialize in Java several years back and it has paid off nicely. But it's always good to try out new technologies because you never know when you might find a gem that will make your life easier or make you a star on your dev team. :)


11 September 2007 - 09:31 PM
Nice article... :)
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