Montag, 21. Mai 2012

Start working on a "Weekend Project", not matter what it is

I found a blog post on called The unexpected benefits of weekend projects and it's a really good read. Beside some technical aspects I don't want to dive into, the article states one should totally do weekend projects, and I agree. But there are some "rules" about weekend projects I don't think you should follow.

Working on "the other thing"

Beside being a co-founder of a startup called PicturePlix and having a 2-year-old daughter, I start new projects frequently. To be honest, most end up unfinished and don't survive the first few weeks. But that's ok, as my goal is not to get stuff out there but to learn something. Of course I always start as if this is a project which is totally going into production, but I don't mind throwing it away if for some reason it doesn't appeal to me anymore.

Some will say that in the time I spend on such a project I could work on "important" stuff. And that's true. But if I have a look at the code base of my work project, I can see many things which only got there because I discovered them at a project I did for fun. Working is about getting stuff done, not seeing what fits best, especially at a startup. So if you don't try new things in your free time, your code won't get much better.

What you get from working on other projects can be anything from a little fun time and relaxation to real benefits for your work. As said, I discovered good ways of how to achieve things working on small stuff. I also coded a few little libraries we now use at our company. They were not intended to be used, but now they are appreciated. One time I did a javascript picture scroller or a project, and a week later we needed one at work for our website. We could use mine with small changes and he's in production to this day.

Their are no rules

In the article it says one should work in an area you don't have background, using another database, framework or programming language.

I disagree with this statement simply because you'll learn many things no matter what your weekend project is about. If you use the same framework and database as in your work project, you might discover different ways of doing one thing and may find solution to present or future problems your work project might run into.

Of course, learning a new framework, language or playing around with another database, server or anything is fun. I do it frequently and if this is what you want to do, go ahead. But don't restrict yourself to only work on projects which are totally different. For example, I'm often using the same language (PHP) and framework (symfony2) in my projects, but might change the database (I tried MongoDB recently). And even if I use the same database, I always learn something new. I came up with a better approach at testing, I read about some awesome features I didn't knew about and many things more.

On the other hand, I sometimes code a bit in Racket, a functional programming language, and also have a bit of Python going on. One project is even written in Java. From this experiences, I don't feel that one way or the other is better. I learn different stuff on different projects, but it's always helping me solving my day-to-day problems.

Code!

So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and start some kind of project. It doesn't have to be the new facebook. Just write some lines and see where this takes you. There is nothing as exciting as starting a new project and seeing it evolve.

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