Why I turned to the dark side and now love reading documentation…

syd
3 min readOct 14, 2021

Let’s start with a fun story ….

So while I was working on a new application with React as my frontend (Rails on back), I wanted to dive deep into hooks. I was pretty damn excited, I had only used React hooks a handful of times in components but I was completely ready for them now. So I got my backend set up with my serializers, controllers, routes etc and I then moved on to my frontend, I immediately started to get my login/signup components done. I knew instead of using mostly redux, I wanted to sprinkle in some little useState()’s and all that comes with the hooks territory. But like any great developer, HA ;), I skipped over all documentation and googled everything I could on how to implement hooks, redux, forms, axios, version control, etc. I pulled up every blog post, article, github repo, stack overflow page… you name it, I was looking at it all. And you know what happened? I was SO confused and completely overwhelmed. I started to overanalyze every line of code I wrote (and/or copy and pasted lol) and my application sat in a dead zone for weeks. I just had too much information and couldn’t make headway on it all. But this week, I decided to do something unheard of — to look at the documentation. And to my surprise, I finished multiple components and my auth was all good!

Here are some reasons why you shouldn’t end up like me and actually read the documentation:

  1. It’s reliable… (obviously) as much as we love stack overflow or some blog spots, we know it may not be information that is legitimate. So a quick fix or a quick answer might end up giving us more of a headache and more errors. So like all the greats say, take ya time and don’t rush perfection. (also paraphrasing — but we get the point).
  2. It saves time and maximizes productivity… (again obviously)… so if you weren’t paying attention before I spent WEEKS of my life looking at everything google-able(sp?) on anything and everything. Even when I would make some progress, I would read another article, delete the code I wrote and the vicious cycle would continue.
  3. It will broaden your skill set … (maybe not so obvious)… when reading documentation you are going over key terms and concepts that you may and may not already know. We know sometimes documentation isn’t always developer/human friendly so by researching these methods/concepts/terms, you are able to review everything and pick up some new tricks!

A little reminder to the newbies taking a stab at reading documentation — be patient! Rome wasn’t built in a day and just like any other learning process, learning by reading documentation takes time. If you start to feel frustrated, take a break, move your body a bit, and then come back to it with fresh eyes and a clearer head.

Happy Coding and happy documentation reading to all!

Want to be friends: let’s connect on LinkedIn! :)

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syd

software engineer. red wine addict. obsessed with vintage cars and jewelry.