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5 Gift Ideas for the Programmer in Your Life

Gift Ideas for Application Developers | Cloudbakers

Application developers spent countless, caffine-fueled hours programming the apps you love and use everyday. This holiday season, show your appreciation with a gift they will love and use. 

If you're having trouble coming up with such a gift, you’re in luck--I’ve got some really great ideas that will brighten the holiday season for even the grinchiest of programmers. You'll have to act fast, but these are gifts that will definitely be appreciated. 

To start us off, my first two gift ideas are books. Books can be a tricky thing to buy for a programmer. I would not recommend buying a book on a specific language or technology unless you know exactly what book the programmer wants. Many programmers have certain go-to authors or series that they prefer. Just because you find a book that covers the language your programmer is currently learning does not mean that it’s a book they will enjoy. With that being said, the two books I’ve selected are great for all programmers, regardless of their preferred language or technology.

  1. The Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master, by Andrew Hunt and David Thomas (view on Amazon)

A great read for programmers of all levels, The Pragmatic Programmer is a written as a series of tips and exercises that will challenge you to re-think your code while offering a truckload of practical advice that developers can apply every day. The book tackles everything from requirements gathering and testing to refactoring and avoiding software rot. I know, I know--this doesn’t sound very exciting, but the authors have a great sense of humor (the first chapter is called “The Cat Ate My Source Code”) and the book is packed with interesting stories from the authors’ own programming experiences. Even if you don’t agree with every tip the authors give (I didn’t), you will be entertained, your beliefs about programming will be challenged, and you will finish the book a better programmer than when you started.

  1. Soft Skills: The Software Developer’s Life Manual, by John Z. Sonmez (view on Amazon)

This book is fantastic. I just got ahold of it recently, so I’m not yet finished, but I can tell you that I’m a big fan--there’s a reason 90% of Soft Skills’ Amazon reviews are a perfect five stars. This book is about how to survive life in the modern programming world. And when I say “life” in the programming world, that’s exactly what I mean. Not only does it cover things like resume writing and interview tips, but it also covers topics such as creating a startup or becoming a freelance programmer. In addition to lots of great career and job advice, Soft Skills really shines in the way that it tackles topics outside of the workplace. How about chapters on how to spend your paycheck, investing in real estate, and saving for retirement? What about making time for exercise and fitness? Juggling work life, love life, and personal relationships? This book covers it all. Highly recommended.

Looking for something other than a book? Here are three more gift ideas for developers:

  1. code:deck (view on varianto25)

A great little stocking stuffer, code:deck is a standard deck of cards with a twist: each card includes a snippet of code that describes the card’s number and suit. The code snippets are in various languages, but the cards also feature standard numbers and suits on the top and bottom of each card. A fun gift for developers, but also something that everyone can enjoy!

  1. Binary Clock (view on Amazon)

Help that special developer add some nerdy style to their workplace with a binary clock. Sure, it’s not as practical as a regular clock, but that’s not the point! It’s a clock...in binary. Cool. If you’re not sure how to read a binary clock, there are plenty of videos on Youtube that will show you how to read it.

  1. Amazon Echo (view on Amazon)

Echo SDK: https://developer.amazon.com/public/solutions/alexa/alexa-skills-kit

Amazon’s latest tech toy, the Echo, can best be described as a bluetooth speaker combined with Amazon’s take on a Siri-like voice assistant. Alexa, as Amazon has named their AI assistant, listens for specific keywords and phrases that prompt the Echo to do things like give weather reports, check your Google calendar, or play music from Pandora.  

That’s all well and good, but the really interesting part of the Echo is what Amazon refers to as Alexa’s “skills.” When you download the Amazon Echo companion app to your phone or tablet, you can search through and select various “skills” that add new functionality to the Echo. A couple of examples of existing skills you can add are a skill that enables the Echo to tell random cat facts and a skill created by StubHub that lets the Echo tell you about upcoming concerts and events in your area.

This is also where your developer comes in. The Amazon Echo has an available SDK where developers can create their own new skills. Currently, skills can be written in Java, Python, and Node.js (languages Cloudbakers is familiar with!). If you make a skill that you think others may enjoy using, you can submit your skill to Amazon. If approved, it will be added to the list of available skills on the companion app, making it available to all Echo owners. Really cool stuff!

There you have it--last minute gifts for the special programmer(s) in your life. The work they do creates the apps you use (and probably are using right now) so show your appreciation this year!

Want to give the gift of flawless communication? Check out our Switch.co eBook below, and share with a friend!

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Originally published on December 20, 2015

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