How to reach craftsmanship?

I taught myself playing the violin. Some years ago I borrowed my grandmothers violin and just started fiddling around until I could play some very simple songs like “Happy Birthday” and such. Sincere apologies to my close family at that time, they really had a lot of patience as it must have sounded horrible. Some time later I played at some concerts of the local YMCA youth group. On a stage!

Still, I can’t read a single note and have no idea of music theory. Tell me to play in “E major” and I would have no clue what you mean. I can merely play by ear.

Me standing in a grain field, playing the violin. Yeah, we totally staged this image 😀

I also taught myself coding. Well, I learned the basics of Java programming in school, but I kept on learning beyond that. My first projects were the typical mess that you’d expect from a beginner which has no idea what they are doing. Later I studied computer science and now I’m just a few credit points away from getting my masters degree. Yet, the university is not the place where you learn to code. They do teach you the basics of how a computer works, what a compiler is and even the theory behind creating your own compilers, but they hardly teach you how to write *good* code.

Sometimes I feel like I code just as I play the violin. By instinct. I’m not following any rules or well defined procedures. I roughly know where I want to go and more or less how to get there. Then I just start and see where it leads me. I wouldn’t say that I write bad code, but I also don’t feel like I got the ultimate understanding of what good code is. Most certainly I wouldn’t describe my coding process as “methodical” or “planned”.

So, my question is, how to learn to write *good* code? How do I acquire the skills to write “professional” code? During my Google Summer of Code projects I found that having a mentor was massively helping me to write cleaner, more concise code. So should I join a company as junior software developer in order to be able to learn from the senior developers? Can I just hike into the mountains and find an old man in a cave who teaches me the ancient art of the JVM?

I tried reading some books. I soaked up the Uncle Bob trilogy (especially “Clean Architecture”), not least because I recognized many of the patterns Martin described in that book from my coding adventures. But books are just books and they cannot answer all the questions one might have.

I thought about attending some software engineering related conferences to listen to talks by the greybeards. But then there is this Covid thing (although I hope that vaccines and such will improve the situation soon-ish).

Now that I’m earning some money by writing code, I fell like I have the duty to elevate my skills from “I know some things about what I’m doing” into a proper craftsmanship.

But how do I start? Should I do some courses? Are there any courses that might be fitting?

Let me know if you have any advise or experiences that you think could help me.

Happy Hacking.

2 thoughts on “How to reach craftsmanship?”

  1. @vanitasvitae I think this has nothing to do with coding but your mindset. If your work is good enough for the people that pay you then it's good enough, period. You may think that you need to improve your skills just because you know that you could be even better.I was at this point a few times in my life and by now I realized that it's only my own view of things. I often feel like an amateur because it was easy for me to do something but doesn't mean that I did a bad job!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.