Tunabelly Software

What helps to make a great developer?

I was thinking the other day what would be a good topic for the next Tunabelly blog post, and it hit me - reading. Yes, reading. It's something that a look of developers don't think about or even consider since we're usually quite busy with coding, testing, debugging, etc.

There are many, many developers out there and in my experience, the ones who are the best are the ones who continuously read up on new technologies and ideas. One of the best ways to learn a new programming language, the latest techniques in it or even new things added to an API is to read a book. With the ability now to get an eBook in a matter of minutes, and at a lower cost than traditional paper, it's become easier than ever to learn.

I once had a really great boss who told me the following (it's pretty close to his exact words):

Books are a fantastic deal. Think about it, an expert in the field has condensed their knowledge into a few chapters and they only charge $50 or so. That's a no brainer considering what it would cost to have an employee learn this on their own.

After he told me that, I realized that's true for pretty much any book where the author is an expert in the field and they are good at putting what's in their head onto paper.

For example, at that job I needed the best information I could find on C++/CLI (it's a programming language supported by .NET) and Googling it didn't really find what I was looking for. I needed the intricate details and a good reference. So I searched for a book, and it turns out at that time there was exactly one - it was about $60 and the company paid for it. I must have referred to it a few dozen times and it saved me countless hours of researching and trying sample code.

So if you manage a team, or your own a tech company, support your employees by buying them the books they need or want. And if you're a developer make sure you keep up to date with the technologies you find interesting by reading the best books you can find.
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