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5 Things That Every New Developer Needs to Know

5 Things That Every New Developer Needs to Know

    Even though I have only been developing software “professionally” for around two years, there is a ton of information that I can pass on to fledgling developers and hackers. Learning how to program is just the beginning of learning software development and actually becoming awesome at it.

    If you are taking computer science or MIS/CIS courses at a university, I can imagine that you are learning technical aspects, system design, programming languages, computer logic, and maybe even a little user interaction design.

    The problem is that with any technical field, there is almost too much to learn. So, here are the top 5 things that every new developer needs to know to prepare themselves for the “real world” of software development.

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    You can’t please everyone all the time. So don’t.

    When it comes to designing and implementing new software and systems, you will inevitably have some system users. Also, you tend to have more than one type of user for a system, like an administrator, data-entry user, and reports users. With all of that user interaction you are going to hear a lot of “I need this…” and “yeah, but…” when it comes to different features and implementations.

    The problem is that you can never please all of these users. Ever. So, learn how not to people please and learn to say no more than you say yes to new features and ideas.

    Don’t be a butthole, but don’t be mister nice buy either. Try to implement only a handful of features at a time that will give your users the most bang for their buck. Then iterate.

    Make learning a top priority

    The reason I got into software development was because I loved learning new things and solving problems. In fact, that’s all I do all day, every day. So, when it comes to learning new languages, operating system technologies, platforms, etc. you have to always be on top of your game. You can get a really great series of tutorials for learning about some awesome technologies like Ruby programming, iOS game development, designing responsive web sites, and even Photoshop over at Lifehack Deals right now.

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    These types of “packages” are an easy and effective way to learn new things quickly. I remember when I was just getting into Ruby on Rails development and I purchased the infamous Ruby on Rails Tutorial package. I created a sample application in about a week and had a great base knowledge of the Rails framework to build off of.

    You will never learn it all, so take advantage of learning as much as you can as fast as possible.

    Know your limits

    Another thing that you have to learn early on is what you can and cannot do when it comes to development and different technologies. Just because you could solve problems in college classes does not mean that you can do anything when it comes to the “real world”.

    When I was first working at an insurance company as an intern I was amazed at just how many moving parts there were to an old, complicated system. I remember lead developers explaining things to me that completely went over my head. I felt like I had no clue what I was doing. That’s because I really didn’t.

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    It was a wakeup call to say the least. I learned very quickly that I can solve every problem, every time all by myself. You have to understand that your knowledge has limits. When you reach the edge of your limits, it’s time to reach out to others that know more than you do.

    Get users involved

    Remember me talking about how users can be a pain? Well, they can be your best ally if you put them in their place! Seriously though, users are the ones that are going to be using the thing that you are creating so it’s important to know what their job is, what annoys them, and how to delight them.

    If you understand your user’s basic needs, then you have made a great step forward in creating a usable and wanted system for them.

    Try to ask users for their input about features and how something should work. Remember not to promise anything though; just get an understanding of what makes the person that uses your system tick.

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    Don’t just lock yourself in a room and code. Learn business stuff.

    There was a guy in school that I knew that was a crazy hacker type. You could give him any problem and he would have it solved in C using vim in no time. That was cool and everything, but he was a total nerd, couldn’t really hold a conversation, hated everything that was “mainstream”, and didn’t care about “business” at all.

    But, he was good at programming.

    Although coding is a super important skill to a new developer, you have to understand business processes, business politics (I hate them), why a system needs to be the way it is, and also be able to communicate technical ideas to users and sponsors of your project easily.

    So, yes, learning to program is important (and you can do that easily with great tutorials like the Learn To Code Bootcamp Bundle at Lifehack Deals), but there is way more to being an awesome software developer.

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    CM Smith

    A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

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    Last Updated on November 3, 2020

    20 Best Mac Apps for Productivity You Need in 2020

    20 Best Mac Apps for Productivity You Need in 2020

    Whether you use your Mac for work or just for your personal projects, you’ve likely found yourself wondering how to improve your productivity. There are only so many hours in a day, and so much mental stamina you can muster before you run out.

    There are dozens of tricks you can use to improve your own productivity and outlook, but if you’re looking for a more objective, comprehensive fix, the best thing to do is equip your Mac with productivity apps designed to help you do more in less time.

    This Lifehack-exclusive list has some of the best productivity apps to help you feel less tired, improve your energy, and ultimately help you get more done every day.

    What Makes For the Best Productivity Apps?

    Beyond productivity tips, there are dozens of productivity apps to choose from too. With that in mind, here are some of the core aspects of ideal productivity apps that have formed this list.

    • Non-intrusive – you want a productivity app to weave seamlessly into your workflow and not cause disruptions. From using the app to the overall display, it shouldn’t cause any interruptions.
    • Good interface – Again, you want to be able to use these apps easily and have them benefit you. The easier you can navigate around these apps, the better.
    • Fair pricing – Many of these have free trials that allow you a good chance to test before you buy. If you do decide to pay for it, the monthly pricing plans should be reasonable for what you are getting.

    1. Todoist

      Available for all iOS devices, Todoist is a note-taking and organization app that can keep you on top of all your projects—both personal and professional.

      Its best features are all free to use, including browser extensions, task creation, and interactive boards you can use to organize all your notes.

      If you want to pay the optional $29 yearly fee, you can get even more advanced features like backups and automatic reminders. Even with the free version, you’ll stay far more organized.

      Download: Todoist

      2. 1Password

        You may not realize it, but you probably spend a ton of time recalling your passwords, especially if and when you forget one to an app you use on a regular basis.

        1Password is an app for Mac that saves and remembers all your passwords for you in one place, so you can access all your favorite sites with a single click.

        You’ll save time and keep all your accounts secure simultaneously. A personal plan is $2.99 per month.

        Download: 1Password

        3. Bear

          Bear is a unique kind of note-taking app designed to make it easier for Mac users to jot down notes on the go. With it, you can create to-do lists, give yourself reminders, and outline concepts for future brainstorming sessions.

          It comes with many different inline styles so you can customize your notes to your personal preferences, and remember the context in which you wrote them. The core version is free, with a $14.99 per year version available as well.

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          Download: Bear

          4. Hazel

            Hazel by noodlesoft is an automated organization tool designed for Mac that will help you automatically organize your files based on any custom rules you want to create.

            For example, you can set it to move untouched items from one folder into another folder labeled “action items” if they haven’t been addressed within a week. It can save you hours of organization over the course of a few weeks. A single license is a flat $32.

            Download: noodlesoft

            5. Alfred

              Alfred is an all-in-one app designed to save you time with Mac shortcuts and convenient custom actions. You can use it in a variety of ways.

              For example, you can access Alfred’s clipboard memory so you don’t copy and paste the same material over and over, or set up custom workflows to automate some of your most repetitive tasks.

              It’s a paid app, with multiple price points based on the features you desire.

              Download: Alfred

              6. TextExpander

                TextExpander does exactly what the name suggests; it allows you to type a short snippet of text, and expand that text automatically.

                For example, you can create a custom expansion that allows you to conjure a full paragraph you type repeatedly by simply typing a unique abbreviation. Once you get used to your custom combinations, you’ll spare your fingers from typing thousands of words.

                An individual account is $3.33 per month.

                Download: TextExpander

                7. Backblaze

                  If you’ve ever experienced a crash, or theft of your Mac, you know how much time a system restore can cost you. You’ll spend hours replacing the files you lost, and lose thousands of files that are irreplaceable.

                  Backblaze is an automated, inexpensive way to back up your entire Mac for just $5 a month.

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                  Download: Backblaze

                  8. Keyboard Maestro

                    Keyboard Maestro is an older app that still has the power to make your life easier. With it, you can automate any number of tasks based on a certain trigger (such as a hotkey combination, or an event like connecting to a wireless network). A single license only costs $36.

                    Download: Keyboard Maestro

                    9. Snagit

                      There are many applications for a good screen-capture app, whether you’re trying to illustrate a tech problem you have or just want to make an interesting meme. Snagit makes it easy, with built-in editing for both still images and video. A single license covers two machines, and costs $49.95.

                      Download: TechSmith/Snagit

                      10. Bartender

                        Bartender is the cleverly-named app that helps you clean up and organize all your menu bar icons. You can also access them quickly with keyboard shortcuts.

                        If you’re like most Mac users, those icons get cluttered quickly and stop you from working efficiently. It’s free to try for 4 weeks, after which you’ll need a $15 license.

                        Download: Bartender

                        11. Otter

                        Otter is the Mac app for the note taker who hates typing. It’s an intelligent voice-recognition system and note-taking app that will help you transcribe your conversations, keep notes during meetings, and even take contextual notes to yourself in your own time.

                        Best of all, it’s free to get started!

                        Download: Otter

                        12. Flux

                          Do you often find yourself feeling tired throughout the day, or feeling unable to get to sleep after a day of staring at your computer? That could be because of the unnatural blue light that radiates from your Mac.

                          Flux naturally adapts your display to emit light that matches the time of day, so you can sleep better and feel less tired. It’s also free!

                          Download: Flux

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                          13. PDFpen

                          If you deal with PDFs on a regular basis, you probably find yourself wishing for some kind of tool that can let you mark up those PDFs however you want. Without a dedicated app like PDFpen, this can be difficult.

                          PDFpen lets you edit PDFs in almost any conceivable way, giving you more power and saving you time. A single license is $74.95.

                          Download: Smile Software/PDFpen

                          14. OmniFocus

                            OmniFocus is all about task management. It has a clean interface that allows you to tag your tasks, schedule events, and even automate certain features.

                            It’s one of the most comprehensive solutions on the market, so there’s a bit of a learning curve to get the most out of it.

                            A standard license is $39.99, while the pro version is $79.99.

                            Download: OmniFocus

                            15. Franz

                              It’s tiring to switch between dozens of different chat programs like Facebook Messenger, Slack, and WhatsApp, whenever you want to have a conversation with a different contact.

                              Franz’s solution is simple; offer access to all these apps in one convenient package. And best of all, it’s completely open source.

                              Download: Franz

                              16. MindNode

                                If you’re the brainstorming type, you need an app like MindNode to help you efficiently organize your thoughts. There are dozens of tools you can use to connect ideas in a mind map, or simply jot down notes for future reference.

                                The core app is free, with in-app purchases available.

                                Download: MindNode

                                17. Focus

                                  The internet is a wonderful thing, but it can be awfully distracting. And if you’re like the majority of us, you’ve interrupted work on a project because of some attention-grabbing site or bad online habit. That’s where Focus comes in.

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                                  This app allows you to block the worst offenders with custom time limits and other constraints, so you can focus on the task at hand. A single license is $19.99.

                                  Download: Focus

                                  18. CleanMyMac

                                    Chances are, your Mac isn’t working as fast as it could, thanks to gigabytes of clutter and unnecessary files on your system. CleanMyMac helps you scan your Mac, monitor its health, and ultimately clean it up—so you can handle all your tasks that extra bit faster. A single license is $39.95.

                                    Download: CleanMyMac

                                    19. Grammarly

                                      A spelling error or grammatical mistake can cost you big time. It could be the source of a worse grade on a big paper, or compromise your credibility in the workplace. Thankfully, Grammarly can help you.

                                      This Mac-integrated writing assistant monitors all your writing and makes live corrections, so you’re alerted to your potential mistakes before they become permanent.

                                      A free version exists, but the premium version will cost you between $11 and $30 a month, depending on how you pay.

                                      Download: Grammarly

                                      Focus To Do

                                        Focus to-do is one of the top productivity apps for your iPhone around. It even has a desktop client that you can connect to effortlessly. The app is built around two things: the Pomodoro technique and task management. It achieves these things with amazing balance. All that you have to do is create a task and then set the timer right within the app itself.

                                        There is also great flexibility with the Pomodoro technique as well. You can choose whether to take a 5 minute break, take a longer one, or even skip it. On the task management side, you can also create reoccurring tasks, reminders, and place a priority on tasks too.

                                        Download: Focus To Do

                                        The Bottom Line

                                        These productivity apps should help you squeeze more productive hours out of every day, but they aren’t the only tools you’ll have to help you find success.

                                        Make the time to learn about and experiment with all the life hacks that can make you more productive. By improving your devices as well as your outlook and focus, you’ll be able to get far more done in a day, and feel better doing it.

                                        More to Boost Productivity

                                        Featured photo credit: Patrick Ward via unsplash.com

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