Of course, elegant programming looks easy. But we all know that it takes a lot of hard work to get that good.
This problem recently hit home for one of our own Senior Pick Developers, Wouter Schuchner. When one of Wouter’s longtime customers migrated off Pick – still a work in process — Wouter found himself picking up a new Pick account with challenging requirements for modernization.
In this interview, Wouter gets real about the process — the ups and downs of learning a new language.
I’ll be blunt: It is not easy. I often wonder, “How did so many people get so good at what is so difficult for me?”
What has your experience been like with Microsoft’s Visual Studio Code?
I was thrown into VS Code as a result of an existing project, so I started learning from scratch. I have no idea how it compares to other development environments. However, I love the way that a few well-picked add-ons, such as auto-indentation, auto-correcting, and color coding, can assist in coding.
I’ve been using the MV Basic extension with VS Code. After seeing how other add-ons make the VS code environment so much more developer-friendly, I can see how using VS Code to develop Pick BASIC code would be natural for a Pick-specific extension.
What would you say to other Pick developers who are reluctant to learn a new language?
As I said before, it’s not easy, so be prepared to work. Here are some things you can do to make it easier:
- Get a mentor. It’s really overwhelming to try and learn from documentation. You just don’t really know where to start. Find someone to bounce issues against and lead you in the right direction. I was fortunate to have Mike Wright (Director of Technology at Zumasys) help me in this process, and he has been my most valuable resource. He showed me how to search for the answers I needed myself and integrate that knowledge into my projects. A lot of the examples you find online are not that specific or straightforward, so you need to be able to extrapolate, and Mike helped me learn how to do that.
- Get good at Google. Like pretty much everything else these days, you can solve a lot of common issues with a simple web search. Many of the available resources include “sandboxes” (like the Try-It editor) where you can test and play around with the things being shown before incorporating the code into your actual project. Times have really changed as far as what’s available online, so figuring out how to ask the question that will get you the answer you’re looking for and finding it via Stack Overflow or whatever is really important.
- Accept that you simply won’t understand everything at first. Stay focused on what you need to accomplish at the time, and eventually other things will probably come to light. Once you find a way to accomplish what you need, don’t get hung up on the other coding presented with it. Notice the concepts and techniques when you can. You may remember some of them later when you need them.
- Whenever possible, learn by example. The project I started learning in had already been developed into a well-rounded set of code, so I had working examples of much of the same type of coding I needed to accomplish. These examples were, in my estimation, the most helpful tools in getting started.
- Finally, learn how to use the DevTools. All the answers to why things aren’t working right are buried in there.