One of the most satisfying feelings for me as a developer is being able to, not just solve a problem, but share it with others. It's why I write about the things I figure out and share them on this blog. It's why, after getting lost in a steaming pile of comments too many times, I wrote the Hide Comments Everywhere addon to help other people avoid them too. Some people, like Nir Sofer and Sindre Sorhus, have elevated this to an art form, sharing hundreds of utilities and projects with others.
I'll never be to that level, nor do I want to be. That's too much work for my taste, especially with a full time job and large family. But I'm immensely grateful for people like them. I've used a few NirSoft utilities over the years, and I'm sure a lot of other people in I.T. have too. I wonder how many times developers have written a great little piece of software to accomplish some task, or found a better way to do something, and kept it to themselves - not intentionally, but just because it didn't occur to them to put it "out there". To everyone else's loss...
When I worked at Progressive years ago, I spent a few years on the help desk, but what I really wanted was an entry-level developer position. I signed up for tuition assistance and started whittling away at a B.S. degree. I knew some of the programs the dev teams were using and heard some buzzwords like "agile" floating around, so I bought an academic copy of Visual Studio and started doing some research and making a few little utilities. Nothing I've still got, nor ever dared to share.
One that I do remember though, was a small desktop app that scraped a company portal with employee info, pulled in the members of our helpdesk team, and showed their photos, contact info, and whatever else. My thought was that it might be helpful for the team to stay in touch, but I didn't feel comfortable enough with it to actually share.
I showed it off to my manager, basically fishing for any kind of odd one-off projects she could think of that would help the team, where I could start doing at least some kind of programming. The first question she asked me was, had I let anyone try it yet? Well.. no. Had I even showed it off to anyone? Um.. no. I think she was a little disappointed at that. Of course, I could be wildly reading into things. Maybe I was just disappointed in myself. That was a long time ago, and I've changed a lot.
I think that if you enjoy doing something, you should share it with others. If you learn something new, share it with others. If you just find a better way to do the same old thing, share it with others! If you're thinking right now that you have nothing to share, think again - everyone's got something. Even if you're just starting out and don't feel ready to share yet, remember there's always someone else starting out too, and they aren't even as far along as you are yet!