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How do you decide what personal project to work on?


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#1 Fid

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Posted 06 October 2013 - 23:11

Hey all,

 

Just wanted some opinions on how you all best decide (well, not just decide but even think up/make up ideas) on what personal project to work on in your spare time?

 

My current job is more as a technical analyst (so although I don't develop myself, I do review code/locate bugs etc) but soon I would like to possibly change jobs to become a software engineer again (this is my second job out of uni). As I've not been developing much myself as my job, I think it best to build up/renew my skills in my own time, as well as give me something to do.

 

However I just can't think of any ideas! Oh, aside from a "to-do list"... but I'd like to work on something more interesting than that I think.

 

So any advice on thinking of/deciding on a project to work on?

 

Thanks :D




#2 +Majesticmerc

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Posted 06 October 2013 - 23:29

  • Has there been a time in your recent memory where you've thought "There should be a program that does that"? That's the perfect opportunity to do it yourself! My example being "I should have a way of cataloguing my collection of DVDs". Why not do a C# form that writes a text file? Then you can add a second form for listing all the DVDs that you've got on loan to friends!
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There was a thread about this a while back if I recall. I'll see if I can dig it up...

#3 +Majesticmerc

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Posted 06 October 2013 - 23:40

Found it! http://www.neowin.ne...mming-projects/ (it's about a year old, but still applicable :))

#4 WinRT

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Posted 07 October 2013 - 00:20

Well instead of windows forms writing .txt, I would go high in the cloud... writing cool and good looking Metro -yes, Metro- apps, talking to APIs on the web and VMs or webworkers in azure, using fancy blob storage, CDN, caching, SQL and stuff... years of entertainment and money to burn lol



#5 Andre S.

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Posted 07 October 2013 - 00:34

Now that I've finished uni and found a job I like, my job pretty much fills my needs for programming. Outside of it I try to work on my physical and spiritual well-being.

 

That said, some ideas, assuming you already know and master a general-purpose OOP language like C#:

 - learn functional programming

 - learn GPGPU programming

 - optimize a low-level algorithm using vector intrinsics

 - write an OpenGL ES program using a pixel and a vertex shader

 - create a Battleship AI implementing a variety of techniques (learning, minimax, etc), have it compete against the best existing ones

 - contribute to an open-source project you like



#6 firey

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Posted 07 October 2013 - 00:54

Code something you will find fun, or something you need.  ie) I didn't want to pay for a program to let me use proxies.. so I wrote my own that scraped proxies off a site, tested them all, and removed all the ones that didn't work or were slow.

Alternatively.. code something you think could make you money.  ie) I want to get into game development, however my knowledge of game programming is weak (though my Application Programming is solid).  So to boost myself along I am coding a game for Android in the hopes I can make a little $$ that I can use to put towards possibly expanding to iOS development, from there I am hoping I can write little Mobile games (on Android and iOS) to make enough extra money I can start focussing on PC/Platform game development.



#7 incendy

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Posted 07 October 2013 - 01:02

Simple games like hangman or battleship are always fun projects to get back not programming!



#8 yakumo

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Posted 07 October 2013 - 01:14

 

  • Has there been a time in your recent memory where you've thought "There should be a program that does that"? That's the perfect opportunity to do it yourself! My example being "I should have a way of cataloguing my collection of DVDs". Why not do a C# form that writes a text file? Then you can add a second form for listing all the DVDs that you've got on loan to friends!
There was a thread about this a while back if I recall. I'll see if I can dig it up...

 

 

Slightly off topic but -  I found http://www.datacrow.net/ some years ago and never felt the need for anything else, it seems badly advertised though, it's not listed on most software collection sites. It isn't c# though, but I've never found anything comparable to get me off it even though it's java :/



#9 +Karl L.

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Posted 07 October 2013 - 03:29

I work on projects that interest me. Like Majesticmerc said, most of the time I start writing software in my free time because it is something I can use, and it sounds really cool. I work on these projects until they reach the level of functionality I desire... or I completely abandon them when I find something more pressing and/or more interesting. I don't think I will ever run out. I have a queue of things I plan to write one day, including improvements to programs I wrote which have already reached the usable ("good enough") point.

 

Another key motivation behind my personal projects is my choice of programming language. I always attempt to write a practical program as I learn a new programming language, in which case I would obviously choose the language I am learning. If I am not in the process of learning another language, I will choose a language I like that I think will make the project easiest to write.

 

My advice is to choose a project that you can use, and write it in a language in which you wish to improve your skill. If there is a particular open-source project you really like, getting involved in the development of that program might also be a good idea. If you work on a project you are passionate about, you will learn more and be more motivated to produce a great product.