RTFM before you need to


So this is it, my week in between my old job and my new job. And I'm bored out of my mind. So I'm going to do something I've never done before - write a blog post on my phone. We'll see how this goes.

I was texting w one of my former coworkers a little earlier today. He was picking my brain about how the AWS command line tools work and so I was explaining some things to him in too much detail. I've noticed this thing that I have where I want to explain the why of things and not just give a one liner that can be copied and pasted to accomplish a job. If this blog has any regular readers maybe you've noticed this as well. Whatever.

So he was kicking some cli one liners to me to look at and in one of them was providing incorrect arguments to one of the options. I referred him to the excellent documentation page on this particular command and I think he must've gotten it sorted out after that because i didn't hear back from him after. I realized consciously something that i guess I've been doing a lot of the last few years - reading a lot of documentation, for fun.

I think one of the common modes to be in when you're reading documentation is that of trying to figure out a solution to a specific problem. I'm trying to figure out how to upload some files from my laptop to S3, so I'm researching the page for the correct arguments to pass. I'm trying to figure out how to avoid the N+1 problem on the blog listing page, so I'm reading up on which methods are available in the Django ORM. This is fine obviously, but I think what really separates senior devs from non-senior devs are aimless wanderings through the documentation for a project.

It's in these wanderings that you discover what a tool can do before you actually need it to. When the need finally does arrive, it's much less of an interruption to your workflow to look up the correct syntax for a feature that you already know exists. Otherwise you're stopping productive work for X amount of time to see if the your concept for the solution has some corresponding feature in said tool and by that time your flow is shot.

So when admonished to RTFM, take it as a passive aggressive offering of really good advice.