Friday, 12 July 2013

The answer is in the forum

There is only so much one can learn from a technical book. In any software development office you will see large volumes placed on desks. Those books obviously aren’t bedtime reading. They are for reference but how often do you use them for problem solving as your first port of call? For many software developers and technical professionals the first port of call is the online forum.

There are dozens if not hundreds or thousands of forums out there. Obviously quality is important. Quality only derives from the user base and the level of interaction. What you will find is that forums are engaging with social media, so expect to login with one of your social network accounts and have conversations online with twitter. Even with social media,forums are virtual interactions. Maybe you should attend some real forums.

For example, you could attend the Intel Developer Forum. If you are an apple developer you will want to go to apple's developer forum and and online videos if you can’t. It's worth attending forums to get face to face time with your peers. It's a great way to challenge yourself. If you want a really good time you could start saving for Dublin's web summit in Ireland for an excellent summit and a great social dimension as well.

Of course if you have a special interest you could begin your own forum. There are many forum tools available to be able to do just that. What is important in forums is that you aren’t just an asker. Forums require people to answer questions, so do your bit to help others. Please send us your favourite forums and why they are.

Each language or discipline has it’s own group of forums that developers frequent. For example if you are a php developer Phorum prides itself on being the original PHP and MySQL based Open Source forum software which opened in 1998. There is also the php developers network which covers more than just php.

For particular languages, skills you might need to go to a site that is specific to that language, for example, JQuery, the forum at is the place to go. There are general sites as well. You could use the DevShed, Dream in code, Daniweb, or Codeguru.

The question I have is whether forums allow people to get quick answers to problems without doing real research to find out for themselves i.e. actually using a book to get a solution? May be it is a case that searching for a solution in a book is just too difficult and ultimately books can’t address many unique individual problems that only forums can address through group collaboration.

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