Street Coder: The rules to break and how to break them

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Street Coder: The rules to break and how to break them by Sedat Kapanoglu

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I’ve experienced many distinct aspects of becoming proficient in software development as a self-taught programmer (other than reading books), ranging from trying to learn machine language by putting random numbers in memory and observing whether the results were anything other than a simple halt, to spending nights in smoke-filled offices, to sneaking off the university campus in the middle of the night after working clandestinely in the lab as a high schooler, to reading the contents of binary files and just hoping that getting exposed to some bytes would make me magically understand how the code works, to memorizing opcodes, and to trying every combination of the order of arguments to figure out the correct one in a function due to lack of documentation.

Back in 2013, my friend Aziz Kedi, who used to own a bookstore in Istanbul, asked me to write a book about software development based on my experiences. That was the first time I considered writing a book about my profession. I had to shelve the idea soon thereafter because Aziz closed his bookstore and moved to London.

I kept entertaining the idea of having a book I could hand out to new team members who were at the start of their career so they could close the experience gap while widening their perspective. The pre-career understanding of software development is heavily shaped by curricula, preconceptions, and best practices. A newly minted programmer naturally thinks of their accumulated knowledge as a core investment and doesn’t want to wander far from it.

At some point, I decided to write such a book—very slowly. I called the fictional book Street Coder and started making notes of random ideas that could make the lives of new developers easier. They didn’t have to be best practices, either—they could even be bad practices, if you will, as long as they made developers better thinkers about the problems they faced. The document had grown, and at a certain point, I forgot about it, until the day I got a call from London.

It wasn’t Aziz Kedi this time. He was probably busy writing screenplays back then, and I’m sure he’s working on another one as I’m writing this. This time, it was Andy Waldron from Manning Publications. He asked me, “What idea do you have for a book?” I couldn’t think of anything at first, and I was preparing—just to gain some time—to counter his question with this question: “Well, what did you have in mind?” I pretty much mumbled a bit, and then it suddenly struck me. I remembered the notes I’d been taking and the title I had given it: Street Coder.

The title comes from what I learned in the streets, the professional software development world, by many trials and errors, which gave me a pragmatic, down-to-earth perspective about approaching software development as a craft. This book conveys the changes in perspective I’ve experienced so you’ll have a head start in your career.



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