Other developers may not experience this, but for me it seems that leading up to the end of a year I become very busily engaged in “tidying up” or putting some “finishing touches” on an application (or two) that I’ve been working on. Then, as the New Year begins, I find myself in somewhat of a lull – perhaps looking at what’s next, evaluating the previous year’s work, or if I’m lucky – even being able to work on a project for myself! That is what I’ve been doing to start 2009.
After spending so much time in the past months with maintaining and “tweaking” existing applications I have been able to actually start an application “from scratch”, and it has been wonderful! My development environment of choice, Visual Dataflex (VDF), is in pre-release of its latest version and I have begun working with their latest pre-release distribution and have been using it for my “new” application – which is designed 100% for my personal purposes. (I’ve decided that this developer is going to give himself the gift of a streamlined custom program for record-keeping, something he’s not particularly efficient at, and generally dislikes!)
In doing this I have been able to learn how to use new features provided in VDF, and also have been able to free myself of my “old ways” which were developed through years of using Dataflex. I have found this experience to be a great opportunity to “think” in ways that I haven’t in the past, ways that will help me become a better developer producing better applications more quickly.
As an independent developer it is always a challenge to take time for learning “outside the box” of an existing application. There is always a tradeoff when considering “billable” hours vs “learning” hours. During these difficult economic times some developers may find that they just do not have the work they would like to have, and I’d suggest that they take some time to “play” as a way of learning. There is so much to learn, and so little time to do it!