“Buy it, use it, break it, fix it, Trash it, change it, mail, upgrade it, Charge it, point it, zoom it, press it, Snap it, work it, quick, erase it, Write it, cut it, paste it, save it, Load it, check it, quick, rewrite it, Plug it, play it, burn it, rip it, Drag and drop it, zip, unzip it, Lock it, fill it, call it, find it, View it, code it, jam, unlock it, Surf it, scroll it, pause it, click it, Cross it, crack it, switch, update it, Name it, rate it, tune it, print it, Scan it, send it, fax, rename it, Touch it, bring it, pay it, watch it. Technologic.”
– Pentatonix (Daft Punk)
Just like these song lyrics from Daft Punk, technology can be very difficult to navigate, and its prevalence can be daunting. I like to put songs to my tasks to help get me into that frame of mind known as ‘the zone’. For full stack web development, Daft Punk’s song, especially the opening lyrics, best interprets what goes through a developer’s mind when building for the world wide web.
Website development is usually seen as messy business, just like these lyrics. The sheer number of different technologies to choose from turns into complete and utter jargon, capable of sending the less digitally savvy among us into a white padded room.
With all the confusion, how does one sort through the mess?
There are a few methods.
One of these methods is a simple lesson that I always try and teach new developers:
1. The KISS method
“Keep it simple stupid.”
– said every experienced developer ever.
A lot of people will tell you that technology is difficult to understand, and they are right. Yet it doesn’t matter how difficult a technology is or how many different technologies you’re using, every experienced developer will tell you as long as you KISS (keep it simple stupid), you will be able to make sense of the mess.
When looking at a new technology or technique, you may be looking directly at the result which can look daunting to setup and understand. Break down the processes it uses into parts for a better understanding. Let’s give it a crack using the opening lyrics to Daft Punk again:
– Pentatonix (Daft Punk)
Even though this is only part of what we started with, we have decided to break off a small section of the lyrics to look at and digest. This is how you implement the KISS method.
Using a similar way of examination, you can start to understand the technology. In all of its simplicity, the KISS method can help everyone from technological amateurs to budding web developers begin to understand processes rather than results.
Even though the KISS method is very useful, we cannot just rely on that.
2. Make use of Documentation
“A guide helps navigate the pitfalls of complication.”
There are archives of online documentation for all kinds of technologies. A lot of companies have been creating guide sections on their websites and directing customers there as it is easier to update and provide to the masses.
Some technologies even have what is known as an ‘API’ (Application Program Interface) which is a huge help to developers. If you find an ‘API’ for the technology you’re researching, you’ve hit the jackpot. They are filled with detailed information and sorted into sections. An API is like gold to a programmer. Even though they can seem to be a bunch of jargon, they are some of the best pools of knowledge available on the web.
Now that you understand the technology, what do you do when you have too many technologies interacting with each other to keep track of?
3. Create a Process
“A Process Processing a Processor”
When you have many technologies in use and need to sort through them to make sense of it, it is usually best to create a flow-chart-of-sorts to understand how they work together. This is known as a process chart. Start off with the technology everything is based off and start to draw connections to how each technology interacts, like a brainstorm or flow chart. The finished product should give you a visual representation on how the technologies work together for your aimed goal. Sometimes visualising something is easier than reading.
What if you’re still confused?
4. Don’t understand the technology still?
“Just hire someone already”
Not everyone can understand the complexity of new technologies, which is why sometimes you require a person that can make sense of it all. Hiring someone that has a better understanding of new technologies is not a weakness. Sometimes you just need someone else with a different skillset. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. I mean heck, technology can just be jargon.