A Day in the Life of a Web Developer

Written by pdp2 on 21st August 2015

Filed under: Uncategorised

Frank peering over my screen

Photo of my work space with my colleague Frank peering over the top of the screen.

I brew a fresh cup of tea and if I’m feeling particularly generous I will offer my fellow tea round members a cup (although generally it is acceptable to only make yourself one first thing in the morning). I’m usually one of the last ones to arrive, I used to blame the fact that I would take my eldest daughter to nursery, but, she hasn’t been going since the end of July as it closed for the summer holidays. Roberta will however be going to primary school in September so that will throw in a new set of challenges into my morning routine.

Normally there will be a little bit of morning banter with my colleagues and then I will get stuck into whatever tasks I have for the day. I work for a digital agency called HeathWallace. We mainly work with clients from the financial services sector although we did make a website for a hotel chain in Dubai recently. I am part of the Rich User Interface team (RUI) which means that I mainly focus on writing JavaScript code for the web applications we create. My tasks tend to be about dealing with what happens when a user interacts with the application so it could be anything from showing or hiding content when a button is clicked to making date pickers, sliders, carousels, validating forms and many more interesting things that enhance the user experience.

After about an hour or so one of my esteemed colleagues might offer me a cup of tea which I gratefully accept, otherwise I will begrudgingly make my way around the office to the usual people and ask them if they want one. Hopefully I will be working on a new component or something that captivates my imagination in some way, but, sometimes the reality is that I will be bug fixing and cursing the existence of certain browsers and some versions in particular.

When I first started to learn about web development, I did it in my spare time, so if I had a question about something I would have to have a look at one of the many helpful sites such as Stack Overflow. However, there is no replacement for being able to ask for help from someone in the same room who you can point stuff on the screen to. Being surrounded by all this knowledge is a real luxury and one that I am very grateful for.

Lunch time arrives and if I’m not going home for lunch I normally head across the road to a nice little cafe called Shed who make some really delicious food. One of my favorites is the BBC which consists of bacon, brie and cranberries. If it’s Friday a group of us will head over to Sweeney Todd which is a wonderful old fashioned pie shop. I normally opt for the rump steak and Stilton pie accompanied by hand cut chips and a pint of the guest ale.

The afternoon tends to be the slowest part of the day (especially after the pie). If I am working on a time consuming task I will normally listen to some music that helps me to focus and relax. This morning I was listening to Beethoven which I found very pleasant indeed. When the end of the work day draws nearer I make sure that my code is in a decent state so that I can commit the changes I have made. Before I leave I will review what tasks I still have to do and normally someone will ask me how long I need to complete them so I use my powers of “guesstimation” to give them a rough idea of when they can expect the work to be done.

If it’s been a good day I can walk home feeling relaxed and look forward to an evening with my family. At times though there will be that lingering thought in the back of my head concerning a task which I am having trouble completing, but, I guess that’s the same for most jobs. So there you have it, a glimpse into my day, no two are ever the same and hopefully each one brings an opportunity to learn something new and to be around people that make me happy. Thanks for reading.

Why Should I Blog?

Written by pdp2 on 14th August 2015

Filed under: Uncategorised

typewriter with bookshelf in the background

Photo credit: Hemingway’s Typewriter by Shiny Things

As you can tell from looking at my site, I don’t blog very often. Just recently, I started to ask myself why. Initially I tried making excuses for myself like “I don’t have time”. But then, I realized that I was able to make time for other far less constructive activities such as sitting on the sofa watching TV. So I had no excuses, the truth was, I had no motivation to blog, which led me to my next question. Why should I blog?

This all started after reading an inspiring A List Apart article entitled Writing is Thinking by Sally Kerrigan. One of the interesting concepts discussed in this article is how writing begins with thinking and how writing can improve your thought process. This passage really stood out for me:

“Choosing the words to describe your work means you’re doing it on purpose. You’re going on the record as someone who thinks about why they do what they do, and understands how each decision affects the results. And developing this knack for critical thinking will also make you better at what you do”

I was encouraged by this article because I realized that part of the reason that I wasn’t writing was because I was also afraid that I couldn’t do it very well. However, I realized that trying to put words to my thoughts would help me to improve not only the way I write but also the way that I think. In future blogs when I write about my work and the way I do it I will be committing these ideas to words, which means that at the same time I will be questioning whether or not I am doing things the right way.

Not only would I be scrutinizing how I do things, but, by publishing these thoughts on the web, I can get other people’s feedback too. Granted, I may need to be a little more thick skinned to deal with the negative comments, but, ultimately I think it will be a good exercise which will help me to improve the way I write, the way I work and the way I handle criticism. Blogging is also a way to contribute to the community by writing posts that could be useful to others. In this case people could either learn something they didn’t know, or, if they feel there is a better way, they could leave a comment explaining the approach they would have taken.

Conclusion

Even as I write this post my mind is going off on tangents thinking about future blog posts, possible re-design ideas and the prospect of getting some readers to actually interact with. So I think that blogging is useful, and, it has the potential to be entertaining for the reader as well as a constructive process for the author. It is nice to get things right first time, but in many things there is no right or wrong, so rather than striving for a perfection that doesn’t exist, maybe it is a better idea to stimulate interaction and communication. That seems like a good place to start anyway. Thanks for reading.