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How to Start Your Code Journal (Part Two)

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How to Start Your Code Journal (Part Two)

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In this second post in my series on Code Journaling, I will cover how to start your own Code Journal.

You may also like: Why You Should Keep a Code Journal (Part One)

Choose Your Medium

The medium of your Code journal is an important decision. Just as the content will be individual to you so will your preference for analogue or digital, and the exact choice of a medium within those categories.

Some people may already use a notebook (analogue) and some may be full converts to using Evernote (digital) for everything they do. Here are a few pros and cons of each category and some non-exhaustive options for each:

"Analog is more beautiful than digital, really, but we go for comfort."

— Anton Corbijn

Analogue

This category covers everything that does not require something like a phone, tablet or computer to access (i.e. no electricity).

Pros

  • You slow down and think about what you are writing.
  • You can’t be hacked or lose data.
  • Writing stimulates and engages your brain better, and has been shown to produce more content, expressing more ideas, and faster than typing.
  • It gets you away from your screen!

Cons

  • If you lose it there is no backup (unless you make a copy).
  • It’s only accessible wherever the physical copy is.

Analogue Options

B5 Dotted Notebook

I find this a good size for a Code Journal, not too small, but enough space and not bulky. The dotted paper is the most flexible as you can use it to easily write lines of text, create tables or draw diagrams. I personally use this ZenArt notebook, but their newer version is linked to above.

A5 Dotted Notebook

Smaller for those who want to save weight or space, or maybe your small handwriting gets lost in a larger notebook. Again, I recommend dotted, but it is up to you. I have personally used a Scribbles that Matter dotted notebook for other projects.

A4 Dotted Notebook

For those who want more space on a page. Moleskine produces an extra-large dotted notebook, which I have heard good things about.

A Notebook With Removable Pages or a Folder and Paper Pad

If you like to move your content around to organise it then these options are for you (although I will tell you all about using an index, which negates the need for moving things around, later on).

Digital

There are lots of digital options, some on specific physical devices and some in the cloud, accessible wherever you are. You are probably already using several digital notebooks.

Pros

  • Can be accessible from more than one place.
  • Easy to back up.
  • Quick to search.
  • Can make it easier to stick with the habit of keeping a journal, of any kind.

Cons

  • If your account is hacked you could have data stolen or lose it altogether.
  • There are a lot of distractions when using a digital device (email, Facebook, etc).

Digital Options

Evernote

Great for organising your coding journal, and can be used for other things at the same time by having multiple notebooks. Searchable via text and tags and heavily customisable.

WordPress Blog

Self-host or use WordPress.com. You are in control of whether a post is public or private. There are lots of plugins for heavy customisation.

Diaro

Available online, on Android, on iOS and on amazon. A very flexible diary app. Other similar apps are available, but this is the one I have used.

A Word, Google Doc, or Another Similar Online Document

Create a system that works for you in Office Online, Google Docs, Zoho, or similar, using a folder structure and appropriate types of file.

My Preference

For my Code Journal, I currently use a ZenArt B5 dotted notebook. I find the size to be about right for what I want to do with it, and it is good quality and good value for money. The dotted paper is flexible to writing, tables or drawing. (There is now a new version of this notebook).

I use a Main Index and Section Indexes, so I can find things easily. It gets me away from a screen and allows me to slow down, disconnect and let the writing flow.

What Next?

In my next post in this series on Code Journaling, I will look at what to actually write in your Code Journal.


Further Reading

A Systematic Approach to Write Better Code With OOP Concepts

Writing Testable Code

Topics:
agile, career advancement, code, journaling, productivity, productivity and technology, productivity tools, professional development, tutorial

Published at DZone with permission of Jacqui Read . See the original article here.

Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.

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