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Local Builds: Set New Software Developers Up For Success

The New Dev on the Block 

Joining a new team can be stressful for any developer, no matter your experience level.  When you’re new to an organization, you face all the expected anxieties associated with being “the new person”, compounded by being expected to learn a new development environment as quickly as possible. 

Even in those situations where you know most of the technology stack being used by your new team, you’ll still need to understand the unique implementation choices and patterns being employed by your new team. 

Set Up to Fail 

I have worked on teams in which the business expected a new developer to be up and running in a few weeks. On these teams, there would often be multiple wiki pages with instructions to build some ancillary version of the product.  

So many issues. 

Links to external libraries were outdated: they no longer matched the version required to build the product’s development branch. This setup made it impossible to build anything correctly.  

[deprecated] 

Archaeology and excavating through layers of build documentation quickly became my new pastime. The most amusing version of this was a wiki that started out with a page marked [deprecated].

As I dug deeper, I discovered that it linked to several more deprecated pages before getting to the most updated build documentation where, again, each of the links led to an endless trail of deprecation. 

Build It, And They Will Succeed 

Having been the new developer “on the block”, I can now impart some wisdom with organizations onboarding new developers.  One of the most beneficial things you can do for your new team member is to offer them a simple, working build environment to ensure that they have everything they need to be successful from day one, onwards.  

A simple, functional build environment removes a great deal of stress for newbies navigating a setup that is new to them. Setting your new dev up for success will give them the confidence that if their changes build locally, these changes will also build on the CI/CD system and, more importantly, in their new coworker’s environments.  Best of all, your new team member will be up to speed and contributing to the team in no time.

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