Back to Basics

This year, my goal is to become a better developer than I was last year. Now, that’s no different than my goal in previous years, and if you’re a developer it should be pretty high on your list of goals as well. However, this year I’m approaching the goal in a measurable, tangible way.

I’m sending my self to code school.

I’ve been building websites since 1996. I cut my teeth on rudimentary HTML on a free Tripod-hosted website that some kindred spirit from the Yahoo! Chat: Programming chatroom helped me create. From the moment I learned that every site had exposed source code that I could view, dissect and emulate, I was hooked.

In the 17 years that have passed since I crafted my first HTML tag, the web has evolved and grown in amazing and magical ways. I have learned and grown with it, but certainly not in the same order of magnitude. In fact, I don’t even think the work I’m producing adequately demonstrates SEVENTEEN YEARS of education. This is largely my fault.

For the better part of these 17 years I have snubbed formal education and conventional learning. I haven’t attended a programming class of any kind or even so much as cracked open more than one or two programming books. Everything I’ve learned has been out of curiosity or necessity from project to project. In the folly of my youth I scoffed at the notion that I could learn something of value about our fast-paced industry by reading an already out-of-date book or enrolling in a behind-the-times college program.

What a fool I was.

Now, this isn’t to say I’ve ignored collective wisdom. Certainly not! I would not know any of what I have learned without the help of minds that are both brighter and more generous than my own. I owe a great debt to those who documented their work and put out blog posts, tutorials and other instructional materials. It is in their footsteps that I hope to follow.

This year I hope to undo all the damage I created by not taking my discipline seriously.

Developer Boot Camp

For the next four months I’ll be attending a self-directed semester of education. I’ve solicited book recommendations that every good developer is expected to have read, and I’ll be completing sample projects that I believe are important to learning the principles these books will teach. By the time the semester is over, I will be a demonstrably better developer than I am today.

Thankfully, I’ve already gotten a bit of a head-start. In June of 2013 I launched WPSessions, which has brought to me the personal instruction and expertise of more than 17 WordPress experts so far. I’ll continue to lean on that throughout all of 2014 as well, but the sessions there will only help supplement the more rigorous education I’ll be documenting here.

In my next post I’ll lay out the schedule I intend to follow, the required reading I plan to complete, and the specific topics I desire to learn and master.

Join Me?

If you’re at all interested in this I urge you to follow along. The only real financial commitment will be the cost of the books – if you choose to buy them – which is far less cumbersome than a single college course, I can tell you that much. Leave a comment here, or join the mailing list below, and I’ll do my best to help hold you accountable.