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Niching down as a PHP Developer

As a PHP developer, choosing a small subject to specialise in is a crazy idea. At my day job, I work with multiple simple languages and fix bugs in the frontend and backend and sometimes in the middle.

As a PHP developer, you have a lot of freedom in choosing how a feature should be architected and implemented. You can do it Object Oriented or NOT! You can have a clear separation between the code that gets the data(Model) and the code that contains the logic(Controller), or you can just write everything in a single file without a specific order or structure.

We are used to having a lot of options, we enjoy that feeling and we don’t want to lose that freedom. In Java or Swift, there are a lot more constraints that the dev needs to follow, just to get the application to compile:

“Compiler error: The function do_something($float) expected a Float to be passed as a parameter, Int given!”

In PHP there is none of that malarky. You can compare a string with an int ( ‘1’ == 1 ) and will work as expected.

At no point in my working experience did I feel like:
“You know I am working on too many things, I really should just pick one area and just work on the models of a project!”

As a developer, I always want to improve and get better at my job. And a common way of improving as a developer is learning a new language. I mean I already work with a couple of languages already, but I am sure that if I add Python to my programming toolbelt, that’s gonna make all the difference.

Learning Python(or any other language that you don’t know yet, but you have heard about) will totally take me from a common unknown developer to a rockstar developer that is hunted by companies.f

And the programming community is full of people who know 20 languages and yet are struggling to get a decent pay increase or to find a job that they are excited about.

Don’t get me wrong, I think that learning a new language will help any developer improve, but the timing is crucial. If you are average at 5 programming languages, adding a new one will not help you that much.

However if you dig deep into one language, and become better then 99% of the other dev in that single subject, you differentiate yourself from the crowd.

How I became a better developer in the past?

I used the same process to become a better developer. When I look back at my skills and how they evolved, I can tell you that when I worked with PHP at my day job on my side projects and I was coached and received code reviews on the PHP I was writing, I improved a lot. Yes, it was a little bit frustrating and difficult to take the code reviews, but I didn’t ignore them.

In a couple of months, the quality of the php code I was writing improved. After I got better at writing PHP, I easily improved at the other languages I was working with, Javascript and SASS. The process was a lot easier and faster because I was replicating what I learned in PHP. You may say that PHP and SASS, don’t have much in common, but the basic principles apply to all the languages.

This is why I want to niche down. I have seen the advantages of focusing on a single language, and how that helped me. So I want to go a step further and focus on a specific area of a language, and after I master that, I can apply the knowledge that I acquired, to whatever project I am working on.

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Working after work!

It’s 17:12 and I just left the office. I have been thinking that I should start my blog now, or start writing an article now. I had this thought in my mind since yesterday. After lunch, I wasn’t so keen on writing, but I still thought that I would do it.

As the hour to leave work came closer and closer, I became more bored, angry at what code I was writing and tired of figuring out why half of the things I wrote produced only errors.

But this is nothing special, I feel like this every time I leave the office after 8-9 hours of writing code at my day job. You would think that I would get used to this process and not give it much importance.

I wanted to write something yesterday after I got home. But I did everything possible to avoid it. I took the trash out, cooked, washed some clothes and watched a movie. After all this procrastination, I went to sleep and I was thinking that tomorrow I will start writing this article, and that it wouldn’t take much effort and that I would enjoy it.

I am not sure if this feeling is experienced especially by programmers because we are paid to use our brains, and writing an article or working on a side project, you guessed it, it requires some concentration.

The last statement seems reasonable to me, but I don’t think it’s the full story. I have lighter days, but when I leave the office I still feel the same, as if I spent the last 9 hours extinguishing big fires.

I just left the office for today, so I should be feeling tired at this moment!

Based on this observation, I think that leaving the office gets us into a mental state where we don’t want to do anything productive. I mean it’s obvious, we just finished “work”, we are supposed to be tired and relax until tomorrow. To me this is an automatic response, that we learn by having a day job for a long period of time.

How did write this post? Even if I feel doing nothing?
SIMPLE! I haven’t left the office yet. After I finished my work for today, I just took my personal computer took a seat on a comfortable couch and started putting my thoughts of procrastination into this article.

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