Looking forward to 2012

It's pretty traditional in some quarters to do a retrospective end of year post, recapping the highlights of a blog or community.

But, I've never been a great follower of fashion. Instead, let's focus on what's important for the year ahead, and on how can we improve as professional software developers so that 2012 is more successful, enjoyable, productive and rewarding than 2011.

* How to be a Programmer: A Short, Comprehensive, and Personal Summary is an informative, though long, essay written a decade ago in 2002 by Robert L Read. Interestingly, despite all the technological changes and advances of the last 10 years, there's very little that's become outdated or obsolete. No matter what your skill level, there's sure to be something here that will be useful to you.

  • 11 Top Tips for a Successful Technical Presentation is a great post from the inimitable Scott Hanselman. It doesn't matter whether you're an introvert who prefers to spend time alone or an extrovert who never turns down an invite to a party, at some time you're going to need to stand up in front of a group of your peers and inform them. Bookmark this post and use it as one of your checklists as you prepare - your presentation (and your stress level) will be the better for it.

  • If you're serious about delivering great presentations both The 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint and Presentation Zen are great resources, and The Art of Speaking: Scott Hanselman from TekPub is well worth the price of admission.

  • Sharpening the Saw is an awesome metapost by Michael Norton that lists resources of all kinds for developer self improvement. Have a read, find something that looks interesting and have a go.

  • Clean Up Your Mess - A Guide to Visual Design for Everyone is a useful read for every developer, covering the basics of visual design in a way that everyone can understand. Our users don't have to hate our software, and it doesn't take a designer to turn out something that doesn't suck - though a good designer can be the difference between doesn't suck and that's wonderful.

  • The User Experience StackExchange is also a great place for developers to lurk - bookmark this site for regular visits to read what's going on. If you find a way to contribute, all the better - but just reading about UX issues will help develop your own awareness of the area. Your users will thank you.

  • A Rough Guide to Social Skills for Awkward Smart People is useful for those of us who are less social than our peers. It's interesting to work in a field whose practitioners self select as those more comfortable dealing with machines than with people. Yet, dealing well with people can arguably be more important than dealing well with the machines.

  • The Email Charter focuses on improving the way we use email - turning it from a time waster, as it is in so many businesses, into an effective tool for communication. Start (or continue) building your reputation as someone who gets things done by improving the way you use email.

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