Did you raise an eyebrow when you noticed the title of this piece? Upon first glance, it certainly seems like a peculiar argument to make. Coding — at least in its popular modern incarnation — is fundamentally computational, so you’d have a tough time becoming an elite-level programmer with nothing more than a pen and a pad. “What other obvious things could you explain?” you might well grunt. “Why legs are essential for long-distance runners?“
Well, let’s be clear about what we’re considering here. Instead of looking at why coders need computers (which is, as noted, entirely obvious), we’re looking at why smart coders need to get into the habit of using all available technological resources. The underlying contention is that plenty of programmers don’t do this. Instead, they get settled into comfortable routines and focus solely on what they’re doing instead of how they’re doing it.
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It’s vital for creating optimized home offices
You’re no doubt familiar with the stereotype of the coder sitting isolated in a corner somewhere, avoiding all unnecessary conversation and shying away from personal contact — and there’s some truth to that. Introspective types are indeed more likely to put time into pursuits like programming. Still, it’s also true that it’s a field that requires intense focus during crunch time.
In reality, though, it isn’t fair to say that programmers are less inclined to be sociable. They need to learn from each other. Group activities such as training bootcamps are incredibly effective at honing their skills. Yet the events of 2020 have turned professionals of all kinds into digital hermits, driving them to work from home — not just now, but for the foreseeable future.
Due to this, and given the intense concentration required for high-level coding, coders can’t rely on their employment places to provide optimized office setups and decide for themselves what they need to work productively from home. Done correctly, that means turning to tech. Here are some examples of how tech can enhance a home office:
- Wireless lapboards can raise comfort. Though lapboards are more commonly associated with gaming, they can be beneficial for allowing coders to mix up their sitting positions and avoid the aches and pains from remaining static all day. Lapboard roundups are most extensive on affiliate marketing, so anyone interested in one should just look through available products and read as many reviews as possible.
- Multiple displays can boost productivity. There’s a reason why you’ll see developers with desks full of screens, some turned vertically to suit code formatting. The more information a coder can have in front of them, the better. And even if there’s enough screen space already, there can be value — mainly when using a lapboard — in using an HDMI splitter to duplicate output across screens. StarTech recommends these splitters, but there are many more on the market for anyone interested.
- Bias lighting can minimize eye strain. Coders often work late at night (or early in the morning), staring at their screens in poorly-lit rooms. Though there’s been a trend towards dark themes in recent years, it can still be highly useful to invest in some essential bias lighting. This involves placing LED strips on the rear of a display to cast light around it and allow comfortable viewing without any glare. How-To Geek has a good guide.
Smart coding is all about minimizing effort
Is being a developer all about non-stop original work? Producing new code from scratch to solve every problem? No, of course not: every coder is perched atop a vast foundation of work done over the past decades, relying on it all the time to get things done. The best coders have the time to spend on innovation because they know when to avoid reinventing the wheel.
Technology consistently makes it easier to minimize effort by skipping reinvention. The internet alone is an incredible resource, ensuring that we’re always seconds away from contacting vast communities of niche coding experts willing to provide free assistance. Most notable, though, is the existence of code libraries on repositories such as GitHub.
By keeping apprised of the growth of relevant code libraries (and learning about the utilities developed to work with them), a coder can quickly check to see if something has already been done — and if it has, whether that code is available for them to use and adapt as needed.
Demands of the field are always changing
Lastly, though not the least significant, it bears remembering that the coding world’s demands are always changing. It isn’t necessarily that a particular language is likely to lose its value overnight. Instead, it’s a matter of incremental change: new versions come with new features, old versions are depreciated, and modern languages are devised to solve problems.
Because of this, drawing upon new tools and new training resources as they become available needs to be part of a coder’s standard routine. There may be mobile apps they can use to manage their time better or help them aggregate digestible industry updates. There may be new online subscription services that can assist them with porting code to new languages or converting code from one version of a language to another.
Wrapping up, then, technology isn’t just a core necessity for coders. It’s more than the requisite foundation for the work they do. It’s also something they should be leaning on for everything in their lives, whether they’re trying to improve their home offices, raise their efficiency, adapt with the times, or even keep themselves fit (exercise apps and smartwatches go a long way).