Sunday, April 29, 2018

On what makes a great software developer

I was reading through some software questions on Quora this weekend, and came across one that asked 'what makes a poor software developer'.

One thought crossed my mind right away as I read through complicated answers detailing minutiae about how to write code. And my thought had nothing to do with a developer's literal ability to write code, and everything to do with how they feel about writing code.

In software, or in any other complex skill, what differentiates those who reach the upper echelon of their field, and those who don't, is interest.

Interest is the key. If you have a genuine interest in software you'll be motivated to learn more about it, and if you're motivated to learn more about it, eventually you'll become a great developer.

Think back to Wayne Gretzky's famous childhood when he'd spend hours upon hours skating on the rink in his backyard. The kid loved to play the game, and that love of the game translated into practice, and that practice translated into skill. Or look to Roger Federer whose childhood was much of the same, translating into great ability.

There are no shortcuts to becoming great at anything besides practice and hard work. Natural talent helps, but natural talent can only take you as far as your mind is willing to go. In other words, there is no way to practice a skill consistently enough to become great at it, unless you actually want to do so.

And so you'll find that the one common denominator of great software developers is that they like what they're doing.

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