Blogging helped me code says developerPublished: 16th Jul 2006, 17:32:59 | Permalink | Printable
Author found keeping online diary helps meet deadlinesA programmer who kept an online diary as an experiment into its effects on development has called on other coders to get blogging. German programmer Marc Zinnschlag started his blog after a drobe.co.uk poll asked whether RISC OS programmers should blog in order to keep users informed of on-going developments. The Graphite author has since released a scripting application, and is planning on creating an single-player role playing game.
Marc joins a handful of other RISC OS programmers who keep an online journal to occasionally publish details of their work. Supporters of blogging coders say the online diaries keep users up to date, and their posts also reveal how much effort goes into adding features and hunting bugs in modern programs. It also boosts online RISC OS activity, and hopefully drawing in more people who may not have previously stumbled across the platform. Those opposing the idea argue that it is a distraction and wastes precious time.
Marc said: "I returned from a year long hiatus regarding my work on RISC OS software. I was highly motivated and so I decided to give it a try."
Hosted on blogspot.com, Marc's journal described how he created his new scripting tool, and some examples of how it could be used. He posted progress reports, and how bugs agonisingly slowed down the release of the software.
He said: "At first it was only an experiment. I half-way expected it to fail, because of it taking more time than I was willing to put aside. The language barrier was another problem."
Marc was previously overwhelmed by the feedback he got for his flowchart application Graphite, and found it difficult dealing with the large amount of English emails.
However, declaring the experiment to have been a success, he said: "Surprisingly the blogging went extremely well. My English skills have improved a lot over the last few years, and the language barrier is hardly troubling me anymore. The amount of time I have to put aside for the blog is almost negligible.
"In fact, the blog is motivating me to do more work on my software. I am determined to keep up the posting rate of several posts per week. And to do so, I have to spend more time on development - or else I wouldn't have enough material to post about.
"It puts a certain amount of pressure on me, but in a positive way. Also it helps me focus on a small number of projects instead of spreading my workload across a dozen of them. I have the tendency to do that.
"Furthermore it helps with release dates. A while ago I promised a release of DScript for last week. Well, I didn't make it in time, but I was only two days late. That is pretty good compared with my usual performance at releasing stuff. A public announced release date motivates much more than an internally settled deadline.
"I would like to encourage other software authors to join in."
• Marc has released DScript, which is available from his website. This new application is designed to allow users to write scripts of instructions that generate blocks of text, such as tables and lists. The output can be saved to files or to system variables.
Marc's blog and website
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