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How to keep the fun in webdevelopment

As a programmer, your work can become a bit… boring sometimes. If you think you’ve lost al fun in your job as a webdeveloper, than read this post on how to turn that frown upside down.

Avoid repetitive tasks

One of the first thing you can do is avoid repetitive tasks. We all know the DRY-principle in programming, but this can also be applied to your workflow. For example:

  • Project initialisation can also be quite repetitive. Think about installing plugins, frameworks, libraries, workflow tools, etc. But also how to maintain (update) them. Tools like Composer, Grunt and Bower can ease the burden of this task.
  • Testing your website can be done with automated tests. This way you don’t have to spend your precious time with manually testing everything. There are various test suites you can use for this like PHPUnit or SimpleTest for backend testing. Or automate your frontend tests with suits like Selenium or CasperJS. See also my earlier post about CasperJS.
  • Deployment to your server can be done with automated tools. See my earlier post about Capistrano for example. This saves you time you would have otherwise wasted with manually uploading your files with FTP for example.

Tools like the ones described above are designed to take away the boring, repetitive, non-inspiring tasks of your project so you can focus on that what really matters: make awesome stuff!

Try new stuff

Got the feeling you’re doing the same stuff over and over again? That you’re stalled in your evolvement as a webdeveloper? That you already know everything that’s out there and don’t find any challenge in your daily tasks?

Well think again!

The field of webdevelopment is evolving on a daily base and the framework that’s hot and cool today can be the crappy ancient code of tomorrow. If you got a project which allows you to try some new stuff, just try it! Why don’t you:

  • Grab a JavaScript library you’ve never used before? (like KnockoutAngular or F7)
  • Use a PHP framework you always wanted to dive in? (like Laravel, Yii or Symfony)
  • Integrate a type of database you want to learn more about? (like MongoDB or SQLite)
  • Try out a new programming language to perform some tasks for you? (like Ruby, Hacklang or plain simple Shell Scripting)
  • Develop for another platform than the web? (like PhoneGap or Titanium)

If you’re not trying new stuff and therefore not improving yourself as a developer you’re bound to get stuck and/or loose touch with the ‘bizz. Don’t forget: each year thousands of new junior developer enter the market you’re working in, so it’s best to keep yourself as well broad as experienced in the things you do. When you’re doing something exact the same way you did it 5 years ago, you’re digging your own hole.

Find the Zen in your work

As a developer, you should be able to focus on your job. Being pulled out of your concentration every 5 or 10 minutes is killing and it takes away the fun of solving those fun code puzzles every day. Lucky for you, there are ways to do this:

Switch from job

Well… If everything else fails, there is still one more drastic thing you could do: quit your job and start somewhere else. I found myself working at my previous employer for about 4 to 5 years, but I lost the spark and motivation I had when I just started in the ‘bizz.

So I made the decision to quit my job and started working at a startup. This is now more than a a year ago and till today I still don’t have any regrets about it. If anything I still get confirmation each day that I made the right choice. I’m learning new stuff every day.

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