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Taking Best Practices and Advice with a Grain of Salt

Published 4/13/2015

In this episode, we talk about "best practices" and advice, and what you should do with those things in your day to day life.

Today's episode sponsored by Intuit! Head over to http://intuit.me/DevTea to get started!

Transcript (Generated by OpenAI Whisper)
Hey everyone and welcome to Developer Tea name is Jonathan Cutrell and today I'm going to be talking with you about taking best practices and advice with a grain of salt. Now if you don't know what that phrase means it basically means that you shouldn't just trust the advice that you receive from people whether you respect those people or not you shouldn't just blindly trust that advice. You should take it with a grain of salt in other words you should take it and test it for yourself. You should take it and find out if it's actually true for your situation. Now this perspective comes from a conversation that I had with Chris Collier over email. I sent him something to give me feedback on and he responded by saying you shouldn't blanket statement this for everyone. You should say well this works for me and it might work for you. And I thought about that for a long time and I realized that a lot of us and maybe you we all take advice and we immediately take it as the absolute truth. It's easy to do that. It's easy to think that just because somebody speaks in a way that sounds authoritative or because somebody has experience or because somebody has done a significant amount of research in a particular area that whatever it is that they have to say about our professional work or about our development practices that that should be taken as absolutely true and that we should immediately implement all of their ideas. And that's just simply not true. That's not true because not everything works for everyone. And why is that? Why is it that not everything works for everyone? Well we have a lot of factors that go into what works for us because we all have different situations and we are all different people. So each of us are doing something different. That's one factor. We fundamentally are doing something different. So there may be a company that is working on a single product and that's where all of their energy goes and they have five people who are working on it. And then there may be a 20 person agency that are they are working on 10 different products and they do them all on a weekly basis. Those two situations are fundamentally different and therefore when you try to give advice to one it's going to be very different for the other in a lot of ways most likely. Number two, a factor that goes into what works for us is who we are. You know you might have different values as the person next to you. You might value having free time. You might value maybe you value the benefits that your job provides or maybe you value being able to work from home. These are all different things that provide or that are different about each of us. I don't necessarily have the same values as the next person. And so when you start talking to us both about best practices then our values might inform what is a best practice for one or the other. We also have different experiences and we have different natural skills and talents. So it might not be necessary for me to for example to to take a lot of notes about what I need to do for the day whereas the next person they may be very detail oriented and taking those notes might help them. So the next thing that plays into this is who are we actually working with when a client changes or when the customer base changes values and goals of a particular project whatever you're building those things change as well. The underlying value and the human structure that require you to change your working strategy those may be different for two apps that have the same functional requirements. You might develop one thing way faster for one client than you would for another client for example and therefore your best practices just simply change. And there's so many things that go into this that it's very hard to cover them all in one podcast. So trust me in knowing that one single best practice for everyone is just not feasible. So one one size just doesn't fit all. It doesn't really do justice to the complexity of application development and it doesn't do justice to the complexity of humanity. Now what can we learn from best practices? Well I'll tell you I'm going to take a quick sponsor break and then I'll tell you what we can learn from best practices. There are some really good insights that we can gain from best practices and from the studies that come from them. So here's a quick word from our sponsor. It's probably heard of QuickBooks and you might even use QuickBooks every day in your small business. But did you know that QuickBooks has an API? Into it has built the API with developers in mind using standards like OpenID, OAuth and REST API calls. And with millions of businesses already using QuickBooks you've got a customer base that's ready to use your app. And you can even publish your app on apps.com into its application marketplace built specifically for QuickBooks users. And here's the best part of the QuickBooks API and apps.com. It's all free. And into it doesn't take a royalty share from the applications that you publish. You can get up and running in just a few minutes using the developer sandbox and the API explorer. Just go to developer.intuit.com today to get started. There will also be a link in the show notes to let into it know that you're a developer to you listener which is a huge help to the show. Check it out in the show notes on developertea.com. So what can we learn from best practices? Well first of all let's go back and say that best practices just simply don't work the same way for everyone. We should take this concept of best practice and this concept of advice. We should take all of that with a grain of salt and always remember that our situation is unique. Everything that we experience is unique. Whatever it is that you are developing that day it is unique for you that day. And in fact if you were to develop it the following day it would be different from the day before because things have changed in the world around you and you have changed. So what can we learn from best practices? Well let's look at them for what they are and that's how we learn from them. Best practices are these practices that are defined by doing some sort of study on what is most often the best way, the most successful way to do something. In fact best practices are ways that we can learn how someone or quite a few someone's succeeded doing things in a particular way. It's usually a pointer to a way of figuring out how to do something. If you look at a best practice most often what you will do will not very very far from that best practice. And there is wisdom that can be gained by understanding the circumstances of the people who are practicing that particular thing. So if you look at the study and read whatever that particular practice is study says then you can understand more about the context of that best practice. You can understand more about the person and what they were trying to do and how they succeeded in doing it. We can try these things but we must measure their effectiveness and that is the key to success in this world of best practices. We must measure how effective best practices are. Otherwise we are just adopting them blindly without knowing how they are affecting us. We are adopting these best practices because somebody tells us to and that's not a good idea. There's never a good reason to just simply take what somebody says and apply it to your life. And I would say that is true once again for this podcast and anything you hear from anyone else. Measure the effectiveness of the advice that you're receiving even from the most wise people that you know, even from the most experienced people that you know, make sure that you measure the effectiveness of that practice in your work on a day to day basis and in your life on a day to day basis. Thank you so much for listening to Developer Tea. I hope you enjoyed this episode in this discussion about taking best practices and advice with the grain of salt. If you would like to reach out to me, you can reach me on Twitter at at Developer Teaor you can email me at developertea@gmail.com. Thanks so much to our sponsors and thank you for listening to Developer Tea. And until next time, enjoy your tea.