Coding for a reason

The Semantic Genesis

An internship diary by Chris Newton. Chris took part in Dharmafly’s first summer internship, when three students joined us at the Lab for the Recently Possible to gain skills in developing experimental web applications. Some of their observations and reflections are posted in this blog.

August, 2012 – week 8

So what have I been up to? Well for one thing I’ve been working through a lot of issues. GitHub issues that is. Apparently building things that people use means that when they go wrong or could be doing things better, you’re the one that has to fix them or something.

Oh and documentation too. What’s that? I’ve completely changed the way something works and haven’t documented it? Can’t you just magically figure it out or something? Ok fine, I’ll write some stuff explaining it.

But what new code stuff have I learnt? Well, I’ve been learning a lot of Ruby. The complexity of one of our projects necessitated the use of a hefty Rakefile, as a build tool for a group of websites that use the Jekyll static site generator. I’ve had a lot of fun working with Ruby again, I love it. Although sometimes I find the sheer number of ways of approaching the same problem a bit dizzying (is that the sign of a good language?).

I really do enjoy approaching an environment for the first time and having to Google literally everything I want to do. How do I output coloured text to the terminal? How do I execute a shell command and capture the result? How will this Rakefile solve world hunger? So anyway, the Rakefile’s pretty solid now and using it definitely won’t wreck your filesystem.

Still, I’ve barely scratched the surface of Ruby, as well as so many other technologies I’ve dived into since I started working here. I really do relish the challenge though and the feeling that I’m pushing the limits of what I know and at the same time refining my existing knowledge to an ever finer point.

It’s also actually kind of nice to be coding things for a reason and for real world application instead of just because I feel like it or because of some academic hoop that needs jumping through.

My internship ends very soon. I’m interested as to what my future self has to say about the experience once it’s concluded.

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