By Corey Adler (ironman84), professional software developer

 

Greetings thwack®! You may know me as the guy who always pesters Leon during SolarWinds Lab™ (lab.solarwinds.com). What you don’t know is that Leon has been pestering me for quite a while to share some dev knowledge with all of you outside of Lab. I doubt a week has gone by without him asking me to contribute. I have finally acquiesced, and here is the result. For those of you networking types who like to dabble in the coding arts, here are a few tips to help you have a long and prosperous journey.

 

You are our new best friend…

Yes, it’s true! We’re happy that you’ve joined us. If you ever need any help, whatsoever, feel free to pester us. The more DBAs, network gurus, etc. that understand what developers go through, the better we’ll all be at communicating what’s needed to get our projects out the door in time. Imagine it in reverse: If a developer started learning and genuinely trying to understand what it is that you do, wouldn’t you encourage it? I have certainly come across a good number of IT people who’ve lamented how ignorant developers (and  their managers) are.  One job, in particular, had me interacting with the IT guys regularly, and they grew to like me because I wasn’t demanding ridiculous things for my project, I always listened, and I showed them that I wanted to learn the reasons behind what they were doing.

 

…and our worst nightmare

The reason for this should be pretty obvious. How many times have you seen a co-worker with less experience and technical knowledge than you successfully convince management to do something you know will end badly?  Or the person who doesn’t even have A+ certification who tries to solve a network issue instead of a CCIE? In both cases, I put good odds on something getting screwed up. Often, people who have just learned something think they know exactly how to use that new information. Trust me on this one: If you don’t have the know-how, don’t get involved. If you think that you know exactly what we need without talking to us first, you probably don’t.

 

For these first two points, the best approach, in summation, is for both sides to do something insane: COMMUNICATE!

 

Don’t try to reinvent the wheel

Imagine that someone wants to learn how cars work. They’re trying to figure out a good project that will help them dive right into the learning process. They go back and forth about it, and finally decide to create something that will change a stick-shift transmission into an automatic one. Is this person going to learn a lot about how cars work? Certainly! Is this going to be something practical that they will do on a regular basis? Probably not.

 

The same thing happens with programming. Chances are, someone has already created a tool that will help you do the thing you want to do, if not do it for you. Want to use CSS to have some cool styling on your Web page? Use Bootstrap to do it! Want to do some DOM manipulation in JavaScript®? Use jQuery®! Or how about setting up binding in your forms? Use Knockout! Does this mean that there’s no benefit to doing it the hard way? Absolutely not. It’s just unlikely that you’ll do it the hard way in practice. If you want to learn how to code properly, you should try and emulate those of us who do it for a living.

 

I hope this has been useful for you. Let me know if you want any more tips, tricks, or just general help. Remember the first point: I’d love to help you out! Until next time, I wish you good coding.