Coffeehouse Thread

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Is being a developer enough?

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  • User profile image
    Rossj

    I am going to be teaching my daughter how to program in Ruby, not so that she can become a programmer, but rather so that she can write her own code if need be when she has chosen a career. Which leads me to my point -

    Is being a developer enough? Is having only one primary skill - writing code - enough to get you through your career, or would it be better still if programming skills were in addition to your primary domain knowledge.  I've met a lot of physicists who became programmers, but they already have another domain of knowledge to draw on in the future. We will obviously always need people to write OSes and other specific pieces of software, and for them it will be enough - but for the vast majority of programmers I am thinking it would be much much better for them to have a wider knowledge.  Let's face it, not everybody who writes code is going to be working on embedded systems or operating systems.

    I noticed in another thread that Paolo had trained as a ship builder, and to be honest it made me realise what a mistake I had made choosing IT as my primary and sole educational choice.  Now that I am older and my interests have widened dramatically I would much rather that I had chosen a different area on top of my programming skills so that I was less of a one-trick pony.  Part of this is driven by what I believe was a mistake in making my hobby my career - writing code for other people all day every day isn't as much fun as when it was a hobby.

    Things being the way they are, I am thinking of a career change.  I fully intend to get qualified during my not-so-copious spare time and switch to something else - hopefully the fact that I can code will be an added bonus.

  • User profile image
    Jaz

    Ive always wanted to follow in my girlfriends footsteps and learn law - which she actually hates but only did to please her parents, she wants to be an architect.  I seriously regret not taking it at Alevel.

    I don't actually regret making IT my sole education and hopefully, eventually one day my sole source of income and working life.  but yes, i would like to have learnt law.

  • User profile image
    Rossj

    De-railing me own thread, but Jaz I should be in Cardiff on Weds-Fri next week if you want to go out for a drink/coffee Wink

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    Klaus Enevoldsen

    Since I was 12 I wanted to be a programmer/developer, 20 years later I have been a developer for many years and I love it, can't image doing anything else...

  • User profile image
    Dr Herbie

    Rossj wrote:
    I am going to be teaching my daughter how to program in Ruby, not so that she can become a programmer, but rather so that she can write her own code if need be when she has chosen a career. Which leads me to my point -

    Is being a developer enough? Is having only one primary skill - writing code - enough to get you through your career, or would it be better still if programming skills were in addition to your primary domain knowledge.  I've met a lot of physicists who became programmers, but they already have another domain of knowledge to draw on in the future. We will obviously always need people to write OSes and other specific pieces of software, and for them it will be enough - but for the vast majority of programmers I am thinking it would be much much better for them to have a wider knowledge.  Let's face it, not everybody who writes code is going to be working on embedded systems or operating systems.

    I noticed in another thread that Paolo had trained as a ship builder, and to be honest it made me realise what a mistake I had made choosing IT as my primary and sole educational choice.  Now that I am older and my interests have widened dramatically I would much rather that I had chosen a different area on top of my programming skills so that I was less of a one-trick pony.  Part of this is driven by what I believe was a mistake in making my hobby my career - writing code for other people all day every day isn't as much fun as when it was a hobby.

    Things being the way they are, I am thinking of a career change.  I fully intend to get qualified during my not-so-copious spare time and switch to something else - hopefully the fact that I can code will be an added bonus.


    Discounting the period I spent as a scientific software consultant and the time spent working on Laboratory Information Management Systems, my science background hasn't been of any specific use as a developer.
    Even when I was writing Laboratory Information Management Systems my background only helped in understanding our clients needs, not in the actual development process (I was the only dev with a science background).

    My advise to anyone would be to do a degree in something you enjoy first and foremost, take career concerns on board, but only as secondary concerns. (but don't do a PhD as a career move Wink )

    I think there's a difference between being able to code up a quick solution to help you in your normal job (Excel macros, etc) and being a 'proper' developer.
    Proper developers don't just code, they engineer : it's like the difference between building a treehouse for your kids and building a two-storey wooden-framed building to live in.

    My first employers though it was easier to teach scientists to code than to teach developers about science.  I happen to agree with this, but only because science is a complex domain.  I don't think you need a degree in marketing to code up a POS system or a BA to write an asset management system.


    Herbie

  • User profile image
    Rossj

    Klaus Enevoldsen wrote:
    Since I was 12 I wanted to be a programmer/developer, 20 years later I have been a developer for many years and I love it, can't image doing anything else...


    Don't get me wrong, I LOVE coding, and I love technology and I love computers - it is just the other bits that go with it, long hours, un-realistic expectations etc.

  • User profile image
    AndyC

    Rossj wrote:
    
    Don't get me wrong, I LOVE coding, and I love technology and I love computers - it is just the other bits that go with it, long hours, un-realistic expectations etc.


    And this is why I ended up a sysadmin after years of being utterly convinced I'd look for a developer position. Not that it's done much to get rid of the long hours, poor pay and unrealistic expectations though....

  • User profile image
    Rossj

    Dr Herbie wrote:
    I don't think you need a degree in marketing to code up a POS system or a BA to write an asset management system.


    You may be right, but surely it depends.  If the asset management system is for, say, a book collection then it would make sense for the developer to have a good working knowledge of cataloging systems.  Sure I know that obtaining domain knowledge is a trait that developers need, but surely there are limits to how deeply that knowledge goes. Especially given how poorly we seem to be able to extract knowledge from domain experts ...


  • User profile image
    Dr Herbie

    Rossj wrote:
    
    Klaus Enevoldsen wrote:
    Since I was 12 I wanted to be a programmer/developer, 20 years later I have been a developer for many years and I love it, can't image doing anything else...


    Don't get me wrong, I LOVE coding, and I love technology and I love computers - it is just the other bits that go with it, long hours, un-realistic expectations etc.


    I utterly reject the 'pizza, caffeine and 24 hour solid coding' culture that's spring up around coding : it's a geeky form of macho posturing that I don't have time for.

    I work 7.5 hours a day, 5 days a week and I get paid a reasonable wage.  I occasionally do overtime if there's an emergency, but I do my best to make sure there aren't any emergencies.

    Unrealistic expectations are a management problem : managing customer expectations is difficult but can be done most of the time (if the customer's too thick to understand I probably wouldn't want to work for them again anyway).

    In the past I found that the only person pushing me to over-perform was me.  So I stopped.

    Herbie

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    Maddus Mattus

    I'm schooled in Electrotechics. I became a .Net developer for the love of writing code.

    I don't plan on writing code my entire career. I am looking more towards teamleading, so I can use my experience as a developer to guide a team of developers. Ultimately to be the middle man for the developers and the project management.

  • User profile image
    Jaz

    Rossj wrote:
    De-railing me own thread, but Jaz I should be in Cardiff on Weds-Fri next week if you want to go out for a drink/coffee


    barring any interviews in random out of the way places or actually managing to find a job as a night shift worker at morrisons or tesco, i should be around cardiff and would love to go for a coffee.

    jarede at Gmail dot com

  • User profile image
    Klaus Enevoldsen

    Rossj wrote:
    Don't get me wrong, I LOVE coding, and I love technology and I love computers - it is just the other bits that go with it, long hours, un-realistic expectations etc.


    What can I say, it all depends on your employer. From what I read in your posts lately it sounds like you have the wrong employer and that you might be on the way to burn out... Also I had to learn the hard way to say "no" sometimes. "No, I will not be able to do all these tasks in the time that is available!" It is a very useful sentence and if you don't use it, you will get stressed and you might burn out...

    Once you find an employer that does not take advantage of your time, it will be easier! My experience is that developers are too nice people and has a hard time saying "no".

    8 hours of sleep each night, 8 hours of work and 8 hours of family time and 5-6 weeks of vacation (per year) - That is how we do it in Denmark (on the downside we have income taxes around 50% and tax on cars of 180%).

    Also I find that agile development methods help reduce stress.

  • User profile image
    Rossj

    Klaus Enevoldsen wrote:
    
    Rossj wrote:
    Don't get me wrong, I LOVE coding, and I love technology and I love computers - it is just the other bits that go with it, long hours, un-realistic expectations etc.


    What can I say, it all depends on your employer. From what I read in your posts lately it sounds like you have the wrong employer and that you might be on the way to burn out...


    I've burnt out before, so I think I am now wise enough to run before it gets close to that again. Fortunately.  I'm also now old enough to know my limitations, at least most of the time.

    But yes, I don't doubt that my current tiredness is contributory to my question - and it isn't just this employer, but the last few Sad

  • User profile image
    Ion Todirel

    No its not enought, never its not enought. I love programming, but i was thinking to try some other form of art, design or something...

  • User profile image
    Lloyd_Humph

    Your daughters lucky. Not that my parents wouldn't have, but they don't know any code, so I have nobody to teach me Sad

    So I'mm 100% self taught. Big Smile

    If Blackberrys are addictive cellphones, Channel9 is the ultimate addictive website.
    Last modified
  • User profile image
    Massif

    Lloyd_Humph wrote:
    Your daughters lucky. Not that my parents wouldn't have, but they don't know any code, so I have nobody to teach me

    So I'mm 100% self taught.


    Hmm... I did an MSc in IT, and I'm about 99% self-taught. Never underestimate the usefulness of being able to teach yourself stuff.

  • User profile image
    ixdatul

    I find that I wouldn't have my current position if it wasn't for my social skills. Honestly, about 80% of my job is being chatty, 10% to theoretical conversations, 4% break time (this can also go hand in hand with the 80% chatty), and about 6% actual development.

    So I would then have to agree, that if I was just a dev, with no other skills, I would probably be working help desk somewhere.


    Regards,
    Ix

  • User profile image
    raymond

    Communication skills are critical, especially listening and reading.

    Public speaking should be looked forward to instead of feared.

    Also, understanding the needs and requirements of a business are very important.

    These skills if mastered can be used in any profession or career and in most organizations.

    Become a life time learner by reading and talking and listening to people.

    Good luck with your search for a new career.

    Cool





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