Constant Learning Of The Tools At Hand Is One Of The Keys To Being A Successful Developer

As a developer, and I address the younger folks in particular, constant learning of technologies and how to use the tools has been key in addition to keeping up with languages and frameworks. When I made the transition from C++ to C#, we had a system that had taken 3 years to develop and with 3 developers we were able to re-develop it within a month as a prototype. So how did this happen? Because, whilst C++ has it's strengths in many ways over C#, for the task at hand, we were able to adapt and change our mindsets about the problem at hand. However, this meant learning a new language and framework.

To a larger extent this is happening even more so with the tools. You can ramp up on tools much quicker than a language or framework. Take the example of refactoring and version controlling a database schema? Alter scripts are very hard to maintain. SQL Server Data Tools offer us a much richer, quicker, more reliable declarative experience. This approach of using tools to save us time applies across the board.

When I worked at a major database company, we used the Visual Studio profiler. But, there were challenges and pitfalls that had to be overcome way back in 1992. Today, the Profiler concepts can be picked up in minutes by a developer and used very effectively to circumvent issues in Production.

So, whilst your investment in languages and frameworks is highly valuable, the focus on tools such as Visual Studio 2012 and TFS 2012, has heavily focused on you picking up the subject matter in minutes, not days or weeks.

Spending a few minutes or an hour or two on tools and how to use them to your advantage, will save you weeks of pain in development.

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