Friday, October 5, 2007

Learning (revisited) and Transformation

So my friend Reg Braithwaite over on his blog posed that he would like to see people make some posts about:

"1) What I learned from Language X that makes me a better programmer when I use Language Y

Something surprising that you probably wouldn’t guess about Language X from reading blog posts

My personal transformation about Idea X"

in his post: Three blog posts I'd love to read (and one that I wouldn't). So here I am attempting to take up the challenge, an blog about 1, and 3, starting with 3.

So the transformation that I went through was pertaining to all other languages (i.e. the ones the I am not currently working in) and it was simply that they ALL have something small to contribute when it comes to how I program from day to day. I previously felt about programming like I felt about doctors, it is better to focus in and be specialized then it is to have broad knowledge about a bunch of information about many different languages. When I finally started to gain knowledge in those other languages I finally realized how wrong a path this was. This THEN relates to item number 1.

So this transformation in my thinking (which is a bit of a gunshot in the head if you were thinking in this very one line type of way) brought about all the other things pertaining to what I learned in those languages that I could apply over all. The first new language that I picked up was Perl, and then I picked up Python and Jython. Each one of those languages had a large impact on how I thought about my java programming. Each of those languages does things differently and sometimes better. What I walked away from each one with was simple at first. Things like formatting and the need to document the code with comments (simple but needed). Then other simple things like structure of the code and flow control. Then GRAND things started to turn over in my head like if perl does it one way and it rocks in perl, how can I make my java code JUST as elegantly do the same thing. The transformation was a big shift for me. It then fed back into item 3 in the form of "If these two languages can modify how I think about what I am doing now in such large and interesting ways - what else is out there that can help me?"

So the learning now goes on with a much much more open mind, and a puzzle piece mentality that I think benefits both me and the people that I work for in immeasurable ways. Taking notes and ideas from many places to form a more holistic view of programming.
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