I was particularly interested in this pattern the more I read about it, because it sounds incredibly similar in essence to keeping a journal – which is something that I already do. I had never considered maintaining a “Personal Practices Map” as they called it, but it sounds like a perfectly sensible thing to start doing. The problem that Reflect As You Work is concerned with is that of the developer who becomes stuck at his level of incompetence, waiting for the “aha” moment to come along and transform him into and experienced software craftsman.
The practice map they suggest refers to the conscious logging of one’s personal practices, and the connections between them. This does not have to consist only of inadequacies; it is encouraged to record both the effective and ineffective behaviors to have a full picture of one’s abilities as a developer. The idea is also extensible to the behavior of others, i.e., recording the behaviors observed in others to have a map of how other developers act in effective and ineffective ways.
While I may not have been keeping a log of my software development habits up to this point (although now I intend to), I feel that a worthwhile comparison in the present is the practice of standup meetings and sprint retrospectives in this course. These posts get us reflecting on what worked versus what did not work – the sprint retrospectives in particular provide a vague map through these periods, both in terms of what was literally accomplished as well as our thoughts about our utility within the group. And even on top of this, the CATME evaluations we perform each sprint give us a small mechanism through which to assess the ups and downs of our peers.
I believe I will be picking up a second journal for myself. One for the continued recording my thoughts and observations about my own life, and one for the recording of my practices as a software developer. Over time, my Personal Practices Map will be able to paint a picture of my progress as a computer scientist and grant insights into what nurtures my growth, much in the same way that my more general purpose journal provides a picture of my growth as a person.