Trying out new technologies

Tags: personal, python

Regularly trying out new technologies is essential for programmers. Knowledge becomes stale. The technology landscape changes all the time.

I got a question last week “how do you keep your knowledge up to date” just as I was re-reading the great the pragmatic programmer book. And there’s one tip from that book that I haven’t done yet in all those years: learn one new language per year. I kept thinking about that and decided to make a list of new things I tried out this year.

  • Distributed version control. I tried bzr earlier and this year I tried out mercurial (hg) and git. I even added git support to zest.releaser. And I started using hg for some personal projects. I’m debating a change back to bzr for my personal stuff because of easier handling of the “centralized” subversion-like workflow in bzr. Anyway: lots of experimenting and trying-out so that I know what these kind of systems can do.

  • Buildbot! I spend some quality time earlier this year setting up automated testing. Looking at the test setup of all our internal projects and making sure everything ended up in tip-top shape.

  • Grok. Coming from Plone early this year, I now work full-time with grok. A different python web framework, so that was a pretty big change.

  • Wordpress. PHP. A volunteer website project, which was already set up with wordpress. I support it, so I had to look at PHP again after not using it for 8 years.

And there are always small things you suddenly have to look into:

  • Setuptools-related: collective.eggproxy (pypi caching), zc.buildout addition and one fix, distribute fixes. You get a peek under the hood and learn some more about the inner workings. Useful knowledge.

  • Layout: I made a layout with the YUI css framework last year and experimented with blueprint this year. And I tried out @font-face font embedding. Now (begin December) uses some external javascript for font embedding, but I’m going to put it directly into my css once I picked a decent font.

  • A new personal non-plone website meant figuring out Sphinx and making custom restructuredtext statements. And looking better at deliverance (and for another website, at xdv).

Wishlist items I want to check out:

  • Jquery. I’m too stuck in regular html webpages by default. I almost do too much on the server side. The last time I touched javascript directly is a few years ago! So getting up to speed with jquery effectively means I learn another programming language :-)

  • Making good mobile web interfaces (read: toying with my iphone).

  • Trying out BFG for a small project. Another minimalistic web framework. Broaden my horizon! logo

About me

My name is Reinout van Rees and I work a lot with Python (programming language) and Django (website framework). I live in The Netherlands and I'm happily married to Annie van Rees-Kooiman.

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