Sunday, October 18, 2009

From Good to Great Developer

At Jfocus, Chris Hedgate gave a talk great developers. Chris warns that a good developer can be fast at coding and solving problems, but in long run, he will slow the team down due to un-maintainable code. Great developers are passionate about code and make sure the code they write does not rot over time.

Chris stresses that there needs to be awareness of the benefits of design patterns, TDD, refactoring, readable code. Total cost of software development is development plus maintenance. Maintenance starts as soon as we write the code instead of at the end after it is delivered. This way productivity is maintained at the same pace instead of declining. Existing code must be continuously maintained and all code must be easy to understand and modify.

Next Chris defines habit as the intersection of: Skills (how), knowledge (why), desire (want to). Chris describes the 4 stages of competence:

1. Unconscious incompetent (we don’t know that we don’t know, we don’t know that we can’t and we don’t see a need)

2. Consciously incompetent (we see something we do not know and we see a benefit from it. We can learn and get better at it).

3. Consciously competent: We work by ourselves; we can perform and can teach.

4. Unconsciously competent: habits are achieved, it’s automatic.

We train with book, lectures, and courses. However if they are at Unconscious incompetent then they need to be inspired and moved to consciously incompetent.

Chris suggests that to move people from good to great, we need to inspire people by leading by example and using simple tools, and involve people so that they move along with you from good to great. There need to be

1. Attitude: simplify, improve, modify, never leave code in worse shape than how your found it.

2. Tools: name things (variables, methods), eliminate duplication, pair programming, study circles, reflect and discuss, code reviews.

Chris wraps up by recommending we think about how to guide the team. Lead by example. Be a role model. If the team gets better, productivity will not only remain steady but increase over time.