IS Department

Growing as a Developer

Posted in Programming by Brian Russell on March 3, 2008

I have been wanting to write a post for a while now which describes what I do to grow my skills as a developer and offer some solutions for others wanting to grow their skills. Mainly, this is a piggy back post to Rodrigo Diaz Cocha’s post called ‘How to be a better developer?‘ I won’t repeat what he wrote, so read it then come back. I basically have three sources of information: Blogs, Podcasts, and books.

The resources I offer up in this post mostly revolve around Ruby on Rails or .NET based technologies since they are currently what I am into, but the idea is to find resources that fit what you need to learn.


My primary source of information comes from reading. Blogs are by far one of the best sources for you to obtain your knowledge from. I believe that if you have a diverse blog roll (list of blogs you read), you can gain a wide angle view on the technologies you are using. Spending just 30 minutes a day scanning your favorite blogs will help you keep your pulse on the technologies you are using and allow you to pick up new techniques and ideas to apply to your development. The biggest thing you can do is read about things you don’t know about. This exercises your mind to learn new things. Here are some of the blogs I am currently reading:

10x Software Development

Coding Horror


James Shore – Successful Software

Musings of a Software Development Manager

Null is Love


Scott Guthrie

Scott Hanselman

A Fresh Cup

37 Signals Blog

Softies on Rails




After blogs, my next favorite thing is podcasts. Podcasts can easily be synchronized with your iPod or MP3 player and be listened to anywhere. It is amazing just how much I listen to while driving to and from work each day. My commute is less than 10 minutes, so I get about 20 minutes a day to listen just from driving.  I also listen any other time I run around town in the car just adding to the time I can get through them.  Just from driving I get about 1-2 hours a week.  Way more productive than listening to some pop music from a boring radio station.
I find tech podcasts to be really hard to listen to while I work. I just can’t concentrate on the details from both activities at once. I believe you are kidding yourself if you think you can. You are letting one activity suffer more than the other, but both suffer. The idea is to find time when you can listen where it doesn’t impact other activities and you can think about what the people are saying.

Here are some of my favorites right now (all can be found on iTunes):

Cranky Geeks

.NET Rocks


Rails Envy Podcast

Ruby on Rails Podcast

This Week in Tech


This good old fashion medium still has a lot to offer. Books are all around us, and it just takes you to dedicate yourself to read one. Here is a challenge to everyone, find a tech book to read from beginning to end and force yourself to read some amount of time every night until it is done. Fit a tech book in between your regular book reading (if you do that) and don’t allow yourself to pick up another until you finish your tech book. If you don’t normally read, just dedicate about 15-30 minutes a night to reading, don’t allow yourself to watch a recorded TV show before you read.

Well, I hope that helps some people out. The main point is to seek out good quality information sources and consume them regularly. You do that and you can’t help becoming better!


2 Responses to 'Growing as a Developer'

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  1. Jason Seifer said,

    Hey, thanks for the link, glad you enjoy the podcast.

  2. […] Growing as a Developer, por Brian Russell; […]

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