This started as an update to my cover story for my Linked In profile, but as I got into a groove writing it, it turned into something more, but I’m not really sure what exactly. It maybe gets a little preachy towards the end so I’m not sure if I want to use it on LI but I figure it might be appreciated here:

In my IT career of nearly 20 years, I have worked on a very wide range of projects. I have worked on everything from mobile apps (both Adroid and iOS) to eCommerce to document management to CMS. I have such a broad technical background that if I am unfamiliar with any technology, there is a very good chance I can pick it up and run with it in a very short timespan.

If you think of the value that team members add to the team as a whole in mathematical terms, you have adders and you have subtractors. I am neither. I am a multiplier. I enjoy coaching, leading and architecture, but I don’t ever want to get out of the code entirely.

For the last 9 years, I have functioned as a technical team lead on a variety of highly successful and highly productive teams. As far as team leads go, I tend to be a bit more hands on. Generally, I manage to actively develop code about 25% of the time to keep my skills sharp and have a clear understanding of my team’s codebase.

Beyond that I also like to review as much of the code coming into the codebase as practical. I do this for 3 reasons. I do this because as a team lead, I am ultimately the one responsible for the quality and stability of the codebase. This also allows me to keep a finger on the pulse of the team, so that I have a better idea of who is struggling and who is outperforming. Finally, I recognize that my way may not necessarily be the best way to do something and I am perfectly willing to admit the same. I have learned just as much if not more by reviewing the work of others than having someone else review my own.

It has been said that if you find a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. This describes my relationship with software development perfectly. I have known that I would be writing software in some capacity for a living since I wrote my first “hello world” program in BASIC in the third grade.

I don’t like the term programmer because it has a sense of impersonality to it. I tolerate the title Software Developer, because it’s the industry standard. Personally, I prefer Software Craftsman to any other current vernacular for those that sling code for a living.

All too often is our work compiled into binary form, both literally and figuratively. Our users take for granted the fact that an app “just works”, without thinking about the proper use of layers of abstraction and separation of concerns, Gang of Four design patterns or why an abstract class was used instead of an interface. Take a look at any mediocre app’s review distribution in the App Store. You will inevitably see an inverse bell curve. Lot’s of 4’s and 5’s and lots of (but hopefully not as many) 1’s and not much in the middle. This leads one to believe that even given the subjective nature of a 5 star scale, users still look at things in terms of either “this app works for me” or “this one doesn’t”. It’s all still 1’s and 0’s.

Even as a contributor to many open source projects myself, I’ll be the first to admit that have never sat down and cracked open the Spring Framework to truly appreciate the work that has been poured into it. Yet, when I’m in backend mode, I’m working with Spring nearly every single day.

The moniker Software Craftsman helps to convey the fact that I put my heart and soul into every line of code that I or a member of my team write. An API contract isn’t just well designed or not. Some are better designed than others. Some are better documented than others. Despite the fact that the end result of our work is literally just a bunch of 1’s and 0’s, computer science is not an exact science at all. Anyone who has ever taken 200 lines of Java code and reduced it to less than 50 lines of reactive Kotlin, anyone who has ever hit that Utopia of 100% unit test coverage in a class, or anyone who can actually read that 2-line Perl implementation of the RSA algorithm understands this simple truth. Software development is an art form. I am a Software Craftsman.


Add Comment