Why you should blog as a programmer

Sal's 4 tips for writing blog posts as a developer
Sal’s 4 tips for writing blog posts as a developer

It’s Christmas Eve and I find myself itching to read and learn more about programming, so naturally, I went to Medium.com. Three posts in from scrolling I came across a post from John Saddington, an “indie” developer who has built and released multiple WordPress and writing-related apps all by himself. He’s someone I respect, both as a person with humility and as a skilled developer, so I clicked.

His post was short. Like 2 paragraphs short, and an embedded video. This video:

It’s a talk given by another developer Sal Farrarello, who declared “blogging” as the best habit he has as a developer. With that kind of a pitch, I watched the video (even though we were supposed to leave for a Christmas eve party five minutes ago).

I really have to go now, but I need to mention one thing from his talk that really stuck with me: recall.

Sal sees his blog as a repository of his knowledge. One of the examples he gave was about the time he faced a problem developing something on WordPress. Solving problems is what we’re always doing as developers, from the macro “this app will solve this problem in your life” to the micro “why is this helper function not working?”, we’re always working on solutions. So Sal worked on his problem and wrote a blog post after that, and he says that he’s returned to it a few times since because he’d forgotten how to solve the exact (but esoteric) problem.

Other than my brain with limited storage, I keep a log of what I learn as well, mostly in the format of notes and quickly formed paragraphs. But the big difference is that I’ve always been doing that privately, in my Evernote account. A quick examination was enough to make me realise that that is wasted resources; very little of what I keep as notes actually need to be private, so why not share them? Besides, a webpage is much more accessible than an Evernote note.

So starting today, every time I face a programming problem, be it implementing CSRF tokens the “right” way or how to happily work with a team of developers, I will publish a post instead of publishing a note in Evernote. Not much more effort for potentially more gain. After all, it’s true what Sal said about progress: there’s always going to be some people who are at the level you were at yesterday.