7 important tips to developing a GIS programming career

Seven years ago, when I developed my first program, I was this naive and very ambitious youth who wanted things done and done faster. When I developed my first application, a Pharmacy inventory system, I got a lot of ideas and insights to different sections of developing applications. This included the software development cycle and the best practices whenever I planned to make an application. I was in IT by then and the enthusiasm to be a great developer was all over me. A year later I ventured into GIS and was passionate about it and knew I had to take side in GIS programming. Moving from an IT environment to GIS is a bit easy and coping with the new environment didn’t take me long. This made me realize the importance of having an IT background before venturing into any development/programming career, be it in any field. Over time, I have met obstacles, successes and exploits that comes with the career. It’s been worth my time. In this post, I share some of the ideas or tips that I have put in place to be where I am today.


Networking is very important. For any developer wishing to make it big in their career, you must posses the networking skills. As highlighted in the Cambridge judge business school, networking is about creating and maintaining relationships with other people in the industry. The products you make in your projects will have to be used by someone in a certain industry. How to convince a potential client to buy your idea? How do you let the world know about a product you have or even a data compressing algorithm that you have? . Develop networks within your industry so as to get you product out there and make a deal. I value networks.Please do too.

Set Targets

When I began developing applications, I would waste quite a number of hours a day, focusing on some additional functionality or features in my apps that were not in the initial plan. This mode of digression wastes project time and make one loose the initial objective of the entire project. Every developer will agree that, this is how they do it or used to and for the better part of it, it makes one learn a lot of stuff that can be used in your next project. However, to ensure timely delivery of products and completeness of a system, its good to stick to your plan and work towards achieving your goals.


This is another important skill for a successful entrepreneur or business person. Communicate ideas to the people or even your customers. Learn about presentation skills, structure of presentations and all that pertains a communication model. This is important in very many ways. It could be a business idea, or a funding opportunity and this has to be done right. I like attending workshops and mapathons or hackathons. One thing that I find hectic with some developers is their mode of presentation. It’s believed that most programmers are the quiet types, but this should not be the case. If you are so quite, you remain with your ideas and your idea will not reach the intended groups. Open up in teams or work groups and you will learn a lot more

Ask Questions

The major reason as to why most beginners in programming quit is because they fear asking questions. Programming is not as smooth as you may think. You will spend sleepless nights, long days on computer screens and away from friends. This leaves you to your own world of fantasy. You will meet so many barriers on the way. The good thing about starting a programming career, there are people who are always ahead and ready to help. Reaching out to such people will end your mysteries in developing your application and ensure you don’t quit so early. Today, we have so many platforms out there to help programmers grow their skills in their work. When I started my website and later my YouTube Channel, I wanted to offer help to guys out there who might have problems that I once stumbled upon and had solutions in. It has helped many and continues to be a reference point for many world wide. Try out that snippet of code, if it doesn’t work after several trials, ask a mentor or a group or forum that you are a member and keep moving. Never fear failure.

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Keep up with the trends

We are living at a time when things are changing so fast. With new programming languages and libraries  being rolled out every month, we ought to keep up with the pace of these changing times. In 2016, a number of new languages came up and programmers in the field had to check them up so as to ensure continued growth and relevance at the work places. In the same year, there was a rise in demand in a number of languages , causing a big shift and continued development of the industry. A new library might be developed tomorrow to make your work easier at your job place or in your projects. Always be on the know.

Review your work

In the Software development cycle, there is a testing phase. This is to ensure that, the product developed is working as per the stipulated guidelines or targets. This phase is very important to ensure completeness of projects and gather more insights into sections of a project. Before heading to testing, it’s good practice to review your work, as the developer, to ensure all is well. In a work place setup, there is a team for testing systems. This is vital. Reviews can be done individually or having a fellow programmer assist or even a friend. This will ensure a comprehensive system that can be seen by others within the organization for testing. This will save you a lot of hustles.

Practice a lot

In the book, Practice Makes Perfect, Julie James denotes the importance of persistence and making an effort to do something. One thing about any technical field, be it GIS analysis, system development or software training, one has to do quite a lot so as to be move between the different levels of skills. Moving from beginner to intermediate is determined by your efforts in whatever you do. In short, practice, practice, practice. At the end of the day, you will be good and will be happy about yourself and you will get work done in no time.

In this post, I have discussed some of the things I have done in my entire career development path. What lessons have you learnt throughout your career that you would share with the reader of this post? Leave a comment to let other know about them.

Wanjohi Kibui
About Wanjohi Kibui 23 Articles
A GIS Developer, Consultant and Author.Passionate about Geospatial technologies. To read more about his work, visit http://www.lifeingis.com Access video Tutorials on YouTube
  • Erick Otenyo

    good points there