About a year ago I took the step of pushing my old pictures and photos page to the side and starting a whimsically named blog named ‘My Programming Notebook’.
Exactly a year ago from this post, I published my first one: C# Base Class Call after Derived Class Block. I hadn’t quite got the concept of syntax highlighting, so I spent ages trying to colour and format it. It was interesting for me to read back on the discovery of syntax highlighting in my post Improving Your WordPress Code Display With Syntax Highlighting.
I had the ambition of publishing, on average, one post every two days, which in the end became enormously difficult to sustain. In reality, it’s about one every 2.4 days.
In the end, rather than conjure up topics to write about it, I took to writing about anything that interested me as I encountered it. Here are some highlights:
- jQuery Standards section
- Windows Telephone Support Scam
- JSLint Messages
- Spam Text Messages
- A raft of spurious SQL Server ramblings.
- Morrison’s Supermarket – A Case Study In Usability
An appreciative fraction of this isn’t really programming-related (so much for “Programming Notebook”) but it has been an interesting learning experience and one I would recommend anyone interesting in improving their communication and technical writing skills.
As Joel Spolsky writes in his post about serious communication skills:
The difference between a tolerable programmer and a great programmer is not how many programming languages they know, and it’s not whether they prefer Python or Java. It’s whether they can communicate their ideas. By persuading other people, they get leverage. By writing clear comments and technical specs, they let other programmers understand their code, which means other programmers can use and work with their code instead of rewriting it. Absent this, their code is worthless.
By practicing technical writing (which can encompass blogging), and seeking feedback, so you help develop your writing style, and your language, syntax and grammar skills. Threads within your documentation can send you on research paths to broaden your understanding of the topic in hand.