Finding Beauty in the Mundane

Tools

Megan Tiu

In this talk, I will help developers of all levels find enthusiasm for the more mundane parts of development through empathy, imagination, and a little love. I’ll use these principles as guiding themes to explore what makes various “boring” tasks great. I’ll begin by explaining that through a few simple technical improvements, we can make our applications more friendly to the humans surrounding it, which is crucial for long-lasting, quality software. Specifically, we’ll cover ways to make the following tasks fun and engaging:

  • updating dependencies
  • writing documentation
  • testing
  • linting
  • refactoring

For each of those topics, I’ll dispel common myths and perceptions about why these tasks aren’t interesting or valuable, then explain the beauty that can be found in each of them. For example, refactoring is the closest back-end developers get to visual art. Moving large chunks of code around and changing the entire visual look of the program in the name of readability is a beautiful thing.

At the end of the talk, I’ll discuss the big ways that these little changes can better their and their teammates’ lives by improving the maintainability of their codebases. Attendees will come away with techniques to make their jobs a little more exciting as well as an appreciation for tasks and roles underestimated or taken for granted in the past. They’ll be ready to go back to work and refactor, lint files, and update dependencies to help with the foundational work that all our applications rely on.

This talk is intended for developers of all skill levels. Experienced developers will come away with ways to get excited and learn to love the seemingly menial chores they are (or should be) doing, while newer developers will learn to foster good habits at the beginning of their careers.