Building Your Reputation As A Software Developer

How’d you like a reputation as an excellent, outstanding developer?

To feel other developers on your team looking up to you?

To be seen as one of the “star coders” in your organization?

If you’d like to be the kind of coder who legitimately deserves this esteem from your colleagues… there are several factors that need to be in place, above and beyond your basic skills developing software.

Some of these factors are social, and some are technical.

For now, let’s talk about the technical side. Meaning, the kind of code you write. And how that influences how others on your team look up to you, or not.

A few of these factors:

1) Developing robust and reliable code

As part of a team, you’re writing code other developers are using, and must build on.

When they do, do they find your code is fragile? Does it break easily, when something goes out of normal bounds? For example, if the program gets fed 10 times more data than normal?

Or do they find it’s solid, reliable… strong like a rock?

Over time, people who reuse your code will develop a feeling about your code – positive or negative.

And being humans, they can’t help but associate that feeling with you.

2) Maintainable code

Over time, requirements change. Or are better understood than before.

And your teammates will need to modify code to accommodate that. Including *your* code.

Do you tend to write code in a way that makes that easy? At least, straightforward?

Or does your code often turn out to be difficult to modify in the face of unknown future changes – to the point they sometimes have to throw away your code and start over?

3) Gracefully handling exploding data inputs

We’re in the age of big data. And it’s only getting bigger.

That trend won’t change.

So when you write software – functions, classes, programs – do you write it to handle more data than you think it will need to?

Does your code build huge data structures that cause the operating system to page to disk? Poisoning the performance of any program using it?

Or blocking the user interface, because it’s processing a collection through a memory bottleneck… when it could be responsively operating on one element at a time?

Programmers tend to be naturally impatient. When something wastes our time, we “feel” the pain of that more strongly than others.

Again: whatever feeling your code gives to your fellow developers, they cannot help but associate with you.

4) Inspiring

Does your code show other developers a better way?

Does it demonstrate, in a way they can clearly understand and apply, how to improve their own mastery of their craft? Simply by reading the code you write?

These are some of the factors that will help build your reputation among your peers.

I’m not saying this ought to be your primary goal in your career. But it does matter. And it makes every positive thing you want to do easier to accomplish.

While fully fulfilling your potential is likely to take some time… The sooner you start, the sooner you get there. And there is no better day to start than today.

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