The ball has just dropped in Times Square!  Welcome to 2009.  This year is going to be a year of change and discipline.  Whether we or our clients succeed or fail will depend on our attitude and behaviors.  We need to have a positive outlook and a constant desire for improvement.  This will require using any setbacks whether they be technical or business related as lessons for improvement.  Application development provides a great opportunity for this as well.  Here are a few lessons I’ve learned from 2008 that I want to carry into 2009.

  1. Use frameworks.  There are some great frameworks now available for application development.  These have been a huge help for me in the past year, giving me a jump start in application development.  Special props go to CakePHP and Spring.  I’ll continue to watch Ruby-on-Rails, which is paving the way for the other frameworks.
  2. Keep design and content as separate as possible.  I can’t remember how many times I patted myself on the back for creating clean HTML code with most of the styling in Stylesheets.  It makes those annoying design change requests almost tolerable, maybe even exciting when they are fixed across the application in a couple minutes.
  3. Large file uploads are a pain.  I hope that a standard comes out to handle large file uploads properly using the HTTP protocol.  I found SWFUpload to be a big help, but that was challenged by constant security changes in Flash and browsers.  Any suggestions for a better approach for this year?
  4. Release often.  I found that getting my stuff into clients hands as soon as possible is a big help in catching problems early.  They are picky, but it is better to identify problems early than later on when they all over the application.
  5. Apply business savvy.  The skills that I’m learning from business books and advisers have been a great help in my programming and technical consulting.  Understanding a clients problems is key to an applications success.  So is keeping things on time and on budget.
  6. Peruse. I’ve learned so much by perusing Twitter updates, technical journals, business papers, and blogs.  It has made we aware of new approaches and ideas that have helped both my business and technical skills.
  7. Take breaks.  My best solutions have come to me while riding my bike, using the facilities, or taking a shower.  Letting your brain work while your not, is a huge help.  I’m sure there are scientific reasons for this, but I’m glad it works.
  8. Ask Questions. When you are unsure ask.  That includes asking yourself why are doing this or that, or asking a client or boss for feedback.  Some problems disappeared when I thought something was important and found out that solving the problem wasn’t even necessary.
  9. Visualize the solution.  Act as if the solution is already in place and work backwards in small bite size pieces.  This can turn a headache into something that can actually be achieved.
  10. Build for reuse.  When you solve a difficult challenge, document it and then abstract it into a class, utility function, or code snippet.  That way when you run into it again you don’t have to resolve the problem, just use what you already created.  That’s what 365 Web Applications is all about.

Do you have lessons you have learned from applications or websites you have created in 2008?  If so, feel free to share them in the comments below.  Also subscribe to our newsletter to stay on top of what we are doing this year and learn valuable lessons that you can apply to your projects.

Check it – Tomorrow we’ll be styling.