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Code Challenge: try something new

Step outside your comfort zone and share the experience with others

Most web design challenges rely on people making use of their existing skills, but Code Challenge is taking an altogether different approach.

The brainchild of Fred Boyle, 'digital chef' at nGen Works, Code Challenge is challenging developers to code a small project using a language or environment that's new to them.

In mid-May, participants will then return to the site, share the project and experience, and reveal what the challenge taught them.

The idea arrived from conversations between friends about a specific programming language and how awful it apparently was to use. This led to the conclusion that most coders stick to what they know, despite the potential benefits of broadening your horizons.

"Devs in general seem to get in a groove and stick with what they know and have become most proficient in,” Boyle told .net. "Some will try new things along the way, and may eventually move to something new, but we all have our fallback tools."

Code Challenge aims to free developers from such a scenario, and so we asked Boyle what the benefits were in learning new languages. "Learning new languages and frameworks broadens our perspectives and allows us to make better-informed decisions when developing," he said. "Some technologies are better suited to solve certain problems but if we aren't aware of those tools and what problems they can solve we can end up banging our heads with our usual tools instead."

Boyle also pointed out that widening your skills can  result in more business opportunities. "It can lead to crossover development,” he said. "There are so many new technologies available, and new areas of work are opening up for some devs. For example, tools such as PhoneGap allow traditional web devs to also be native app devs."

If you'd like to get involved, visit the Code Challenge website.

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