Ok, before continuing in reading this article, it is not about boasting my skill-set. As much as I love to tell people I’m the new god, ahum no I’m not. I do want to point out that I create affective things. And have done so for the past 13 years.
This article explains how I became a well-rounded web developer, and teaching you how to do the same. It involves hard work and dedication. The method I learn is named 21st century learning.
This article explains how to become a skilled web professional.
Closing your eyes might make you more beautiful, but it will not teach you anything.
What I want to share with you, or in other words what I want to explain is how I think and do my work. My wife and my friends told me that I had an early 21st century thinking. The first time I started being a geek was in 2001 when I received the movie Shrek from my best friend.This was the first movie I watched on my computer. This 3D digital movie sparked an interest in everything web related.
The way I learn is actually already being taught back in the 90’s. A book originally published in 1998 by Graves and Michael F. They now have released a 2010 version Teaching Reading in the 21st Century available at Amazon Book Store.
When I started using the internet, Google was an established and an effective search engine. Whatever I needed to know I simply searched for it. The comments I received from my friend was how fast I could find an answer to whatever my question was. But what I could not understand in my naïvety was that he could not do the same. In so many occasion he would just ask me to search for something.
This had no relationship with my friend not being capable in searching things. But in how to search for things. This is now the biggest turning point in education.
In self-education the understanding is one simple rule.
Everything is possible
With the knowledge knowing everything is possible you know that somehow directly or indirectly you will be able to find the answer. Being it that you have to know something already or by compiling lots of different answers, based of earlier searched articles.
It is not always possible to find an answer within the first search, but you can understand how to re-evaluate your question. I’ll explain how to do this a bit later.
One great technique in knowing if something is possible is by already seeing it. Originality is pretty much non-existent and all originality is a branch of another concept or idea. Which is not wrong what so ever, building up a project based of another project and extending its originality or functionality is a great step forward. Building a project based on environmental gaps, is also a great way forward, it means your able to see a problem where you can find a solution.
So knowing that parts of your project or concept already exists, you can start by finding solutions to problems. Every time I meet a problem I simply try to find a solution, this means that it is not always the simplest way in resolving an issue. But is certainly a fix, if the fix is pretty time consuming than why not just go ahead with it. If it fixes the problem than its ok. You will find that later in life maybe in a month, maybe a year later. That you will find a better method, and which you can upgrade your current development.
All great developments can be an inspiration of your previous creations.
And this is the key in understanding how to question your questions. When I search in Google I already know that it exists, or I already know parts of the solution and only need to extend the current knowledge.
So my technique in finding knowledge is to base it of current knowledge, simply search for that exact thing. For example I need to know how to create a snippet from a large text. I know I want to have around 140 characters, I also know that I want to use PHP.
So my search term would be, “php cut text at 100 characters”. Ok so why did I say I need 140 first characters but I search for 100?
Over the years I have searched I have understood that I need to use commonly used words or figures. For example using round figures. If I search for how to cut 9 characters out of text, I’ll get a pretty random search returned. While if I search for commonly used figures which are 1, 2, 3, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and so on. I know that my search will return exactly what I need to know.
And this is one part of my search technique, it is to use commonly used figures or words. The more basic the question, the better your results will be.
When I’m pretty sure I’m heading into the right direction, I read a couple more articles involving the same answer. This to verify that the answers provided in other articles are along the same track. And sometimes you might also find a shorter and better answer.
Back in 2001 history based search did not exist. Now Google will return results based of multiple queries, as it tries to understand what you are trying to search.
If your first search is about “php replace single character”, than your second is “php match characters”, it would most likely return a result related to preg_match. The only downside with history based search is that sometimes you need to find an answer that has no relationship to your new query, back in the early 2000 I did not have that problem. Now I simply search in Incognite or check the world icon in the top right corner saying hide private search.
On a daily basis I’m doing something on Google, I search so much data that my brain constantly needs to delete stuff to make room.
With all the searches that you do and based on the searches you do you will eventually start to understand and memorize how to do a certain actions. And btw, there is no harm in searching the same question time over time. Nobody expects you to memorize everything. And I can assure you that eventually when you are searching the same question time over time, your searches will be much more accurate, resulting in a better answer, and newer more modernized answers. While having the benefit to memorize it on a long-term basis.
Everyday I spend time reading
I read lots, I mean I absolutely hate to pick up a book and read it. But I do love reading blogs, articles and statistics from fellow web developers. In the morning before I start to work I look at the Moz.com blog for some great articles or use Google+ to find some interesting topics. The only thing with Google+ is to fish out article that are worth reading. I can recommend the community leader from SEO+, he re-shares articles he finds are worth reading. And I’m sure you will find some other great people who constantly share good content.
Sometimes you might find certain articles to have no relationship towards your current project, it can indirectly help you. There are always parts in the article that are useful to you.
As old as they might be the benefit from helping others on communities is that you will engage into new or existing problems, you will not only help the person that is asking the question, but also tons of others that are searching Google for the same problem. Plus along side helping others you will push forward technology so that everybody can spend less time trying to figure out a problem and spend more time moving forward.
I work differently than my employers
Years ago my employers always said, if you don’t know how to do something than ask somebody. My answer to that is, why ask somebody when all the answers are already available. What is the point of asking the same question time after time? They didn’t appreciate my answer as they thought I was being lazy. It was only a year later that they realized that the way I work has greater potential.
I always said if you always try to get the answers served on a plate, your brain does not try to understand how to do something. You need to teach your brain how to think. By teaching your brain how to think you will increase the brain connections and thus slowly be able to fix problems without even needing to find the answer.
There is also a common community mind-set, that if you don’t try to solve the problem in the first place than the help from fellow developers will be less likely. Why help somebody if they can’t care to at least try.
There is one little thing thou
There is one little thing thou, I learned everything by experimenting, I use my spare time in the evening or weekends. Or at work. I am lucky that I have a working environment where I am able to use my time to experiment as I build all my projects. I work in a multi million company where I’m the only web developer. I work non stop and have no time to lazy about. The company I work for has two sites that deal with 98% on-line retail. So my development experience is mainly eCommerce related.
This should not stop you from learning the way I learn if your employers do not give you the environment to learn based on searching for answers, than I wouldn’t see how a web development company would be able to survive if you’re not even able to search for answers.
Ok so this is a pretty long article. And I have not included any of my projects to showcase my talents because that is beside the point. If you really want to see my work view my other articles or click on hire at the top in the menu which will lead you to all my projects.
I have never attended web development school, I have never had a mentor physically telling me what to do. I learned more about a job in 1 year than I have done 10 years at school. What I sometimes use to learn about new technology, is use TeamTreeHouse. One great thing I have learned is how to build a WordPress theme. I have great knowledge about how to build a website in a standalone version, but building something from a framework is a different story.
If I need a quick burst of knowledge, I use TeamTreeHouse!
I am still learning how to explain things, as I’m a very technical person, I lack the knowledge of teaching others my skills. So hopefully this article explains how to learn to become a web developer.