Learning to be a good developer: what parts can you skip over?

Posted by Andrew M on Programmers See other posts from Programmers or by Andrew M
Published on 2011-02-01T17:36:34Z Indexed on 2011/02/01 23:34 UTC
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I have set myself the goal of becoming a decent developer by this time next year. By this I mean full experience of the development 'lifecycle,' a few good apps/sites/webapps under my belt, and most importantly being able to work at a steady pace without getting sidelined for hours by some should-know-this-already technique.

I'm not starting from scratch. I've written a lot of html/css, SQL, javascript, python and VB.net, and studied other languages like C and Java. I know about things like OOP, design patterns, TDD, complexity, computational linguistics, pointers/references, functional programming, and other academic/theoretical matters. It's just I can't say I've really done these things yet.

So I want to get up to speed, and I want to know what things I can leave till a later date. For instance, studying algorithms and the maths behind them is interesting and all, but so far I've hardly needed to write anything but the most basic nested loops. Investigating Assembly to have a clearer picture of low-level operations would be cool... but I imagine rarely infringes on daily work. On the other hand, looking at a functional programming language might help me write programs that are more comprehensible and less prone to hidden failures (at the moment I'm finding the biggest difficulty is when the complexity of the app exceeds my capacity to understand it - for instance passing data around was fine... until I had to start doing it with AJAX, which was a painful step up). I could spend time working through case studies of design patterns, but I'm not sure how many of them get used in 'real life.'

I'm a programmer with basic abilities - what skills should I focus on developing?

(also my Unix skills are very weak, and also knowledge of Windows configuration... not sure how much time I should spend on that)

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