If we get assigned to do multiple works simultaneosly, is it good for growth for a developer?

If there is a development project and if you are assigned to work on a maintenance project as well, is it good for the growth or will it inhibit the progress?

  • 2
    It may depend on the projects, the specific maintenance tasks and your ability to manage time. – Brandon Sep 17 '13 at 19:00
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    It could be good as long as the number of tasks is less than or equal to the number of tasks that you can handle without any significant loss in efficiency. – FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Sep 17 '13 at 19:21

It's good for you (within reason).

Working on maintenance projects will reinforce the need for good programming habits and will expose you to other techniques (both good ones to mimic and bad ones to avoid). It will also pound into your head the notion that programming choices have consequences and you need to think about the next person to edit the code.

Likewise, a limited amount of context switching is not necessarily harmful - it gives you the opportunity to work on something different when the current task/project starts getting stale. The challenge is to ensure that the switches are under your control and that you have sufficient time for both tasks.

My idea of limited switching would be on the order of a couple switches per week, depending on circumstances.

  • +1, however context switching, not just a limited amount, isn't at all bad if you can devote whole chunks of time to one or the other context and finish a task, possibly even a complete "issue", before you switch. Context switching is only bad if/when it leaves your work in a "pending" state and you have to "get back into" it. How else would we be able to work on multiple issues, even serially? Provided you can chunk your work into "finished" items, context switching is actually a good thing. Working on a different code base can generate all kinds of ideas for improving another. – Marjan Venema Sep 18 '13 at 10:00

Working on multiple initiatives simultaneously is more likely than not going to institute a good amount of context switching. Context switching is bad, generally. As @Dan answered, having multiple initiatives allows you to have something else to fall back on when you need a break, as long as you have the convenience of doing so.

In terms of developer growth, it's good for a developer to be well versed in many areas of development, if that's what you're getting at, but try to focus on one initiative at a time to inhibit the chance of constant context switching and the pitfalls that come along with it.

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