Developer Notes - Part I

  • About five years ago, I decided to teach myself how to build software, this decision led me into the challenging, fun, creative and ever-chaninging world of software and web development. For the longest time I struggled with organizing my notes. Several tools that I have tried and continue to use, depending on what I’m working on, are Google Docs, Google Keep, BitBucket Snippets, GitHUb Gists, and the list goes.

  • Google Keep and Google Docs are both great tools for taking notes via voice and/or hand. After using these for a while I realized that there where times when I needed to see my code in a formatted way. This is when I learned about Markdown. So “what is Morkdown?”, you might ask. According to Wikipedia, it is a syntaxt used for plain text formatting. Markdown is used in forums, for creating README files, blogging etc. In fact, I’m using Markdown to write this blog. This lighweight markup language is used extensively by developers, and writers. To learn more about Markdown see the
    cheatsheet on GitHub.

  • It’s important to get into the habit of writing as one begins his/her journey into the software/web development world. Many tools are available and searching and trying out what works for you is part of the process.

  • After learning about Markdown, I moved to using Snippets on BitBucket and Gists on GitHub. If you’re not familiar with any of these, GitHub or BitBucket, they are two of the most popular repository management services for software development. You can visit their websites to learn more about them. Moving on …

Google Keep

Google Keep

Google Docs

Google Docs

Bitbucket Snippets

Bitbucket Snippets

GitHub Gists

GitHub Gists

  • The advantage I found in using BitBucket and GitHub tools is that my notes were already formated for me to use in my blogs. It was much easier to read my notes using these tools as opposed to using Google Docs or Google Keep. I still do using the other tools because there are times when they can do a better job especially when it comes to taking down quick notes for example, while listening to a podcast, a things I find Google Keep great for. When it comes to presentations, essays, spreadsheets, Google Docs wins the day for me. Back to writing for developers …

Here is an example of some JavaScript code without using Markdown: Hard to read, right?

function User(firstName, lastName, age, gender) {
this.firstName = firstName;
this.lastName = lastName;
this.age = age;
this.gender = gender;
};

var farai = new User(‘Farai’, ‘Zozo’, 29, ‘female’);
var hoza = new User(‘Hoza’, ‘Moyo’, 35, ‘male’);
farai;

Here is an example of some JavaScript code using Markdown: Much better?

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
function User(firstName, lastName, age, gender) {
this.firstName = firstName;
this.lastName = lastName;
this.age = age;
this.gender = gender;
};

var farai = new User('Farai', 'Zozo', 29, 'female');
var hoza = new User('Hoza', 'Moyo', 35, 'male');
farai;
  • Big difference, right? While writing is important for a developer, it can be a challenge to write and learn at the same time. Finding the right tool is not easy, but it is very rewarding when you find your tools, learn, write and share with the community. I will continue to write a few more blogs on writing tools and the importance of writing for software/web developers. My next blogs are going to cover Markdown, Vim, VimWiki, and Hexo as well as how to combine these tools to effectively learn, write, and share your developer notes with the community.