|I'm in my late twenties and I'm having a bit of a tough time dealing with my level of programming skill.|
Over the past 3 years, I've released a few apps on iOS: not bad, nothing that would amaze anyone here. The code is generally messy and horrible, rife with race conditions and barely holding together in parts. (Biggest: 30k LOC.) While I'm proud of my work — especially design-wise — I feel most of my time was spent on battling stupid bugs. I haven't gained any specialist knowledge — just bloggable API experience. There's nothing I could write a book about.
Meanwhile, when I compulsively dig through one-man frameworks like YapDatabase, Audiobus, or AudioKit, I am left in awe! They're brimming with specialist knowledge. They're incredibly documented and organized. Major features were added over the course of weeks! People have written books about these frameworks, and they were created by my peers — probably alongside other work. Same with one-man apps like Editorial, Ulysses, or GoodNotes.
I am utterly baffled by how knowledgeable and productive these programmers are. If I'm dealing with a new topic, it can take weeks to get a lay of the land, figure out codebase interactions, consider all the edge cases, etc. etc. But the commits for these frameworks show that the devs basically worked through their problems over mere days — to say nothing of getting the overall architecture right from the start. An object cache layer for SQL? Automatic code gen via YAML? MIDI over Wi-Fi? Audio destuttering? Pff, it took me like a month to add copy/paste to my app!
I'm in need of some recalibration. Am I missing something? Is this quality of work the norm, or are these just exceptional programmers? And even if they are, how can I get closer to where they're standing? I don't want to wallow in my mediocrity, but the mountain looks almost insurmountable from here! No matter the financial cost or effort, I want to make amazing things that sustain me financially; but I can't do that if it takes me ten times as long to make a polished product as another dev. How do I get good enough to consistently do work worth writing books about?