Posts Tagged ‘self improvement’

Junior developers beware, SOLID principles and design patterns are indeed useful for you

February 13th, 2009 Comments off

I have several times disagreed with Jeff. They are just rare occasions though, given the amount of blog posts he wrote and I read (and agreed with). However, given his popularity as a blogger, any misleading advice may be highly destructive to junior software developers who may turn to his blog for advices. This time around, Jeff bashes guidelines, rules, and checklist with SOLID principles being one of the targets.

Now, young developers, before you start throwing away all the books about design patterns, agile, OO principles etc., let me tell you one thing: if Jeff Atwood is a better developer at all today, it’s because he has learned from the rules preached by more knowledgeable people. Don’t believe? Read this. There you go, Jeff Atwood as a fan of Code Complete, a 900-page book full of coding rules, was so much interested in the book that he even named his blog after one of the book’s symbol. He just seems to forget about where he came from when he wrote:

While I do believe every software development team should endeavor to follow the instructions on the paint can, there’s a limit to what you can fit on a paint can. It’s the most basic, most critical information you need to proceed and not make a giant mess of the process. As brief as the instructions on a paint can are, they do represent the upper limit of what most people will realistically read, comprehend, and derive immediate benefit from.

It’s normal for a very experienced developer to rely mostly on his judgment instead of a set of rules and principles to do thing. But it’s just uncool for such an experienced developer to advise the newbies to do the same thing, i.e. they’d better use their judgment first before resorting to the distilled and valuable knowledge taught by others.

…I’ve found less and less use for rules in my career. Not because I’m a self-made genius who plays by my own rules, mind you, but because I value the skills, experience, and judgment of my team far more than any static set of rules… Rules, guidelines, and principles are gems of distilled experience that should be studied and respected. But they’re never a substute for thinking critically about your work.

The thing is people are not born making good judgment. And one of the best ways to sharpen one’s judgment is to learn from the knowledge of those people who have made good judgment. Only after one has practiced these teachings long enough, making a lot of right and wrong decisions based on these teachings, one will for the first time, really understand about them and don’t have to think about them any longer as they have become part of one’s instinct. That should be the thing experienced developers teach junior developers, not this:

The types of developers who could benefit from SOLID a) aren’t thoughtful enough about their work to care and b) won’t read much of anything

Don’t get me wrong, I respect many of Jeff’s opinions, but I think he should feel more responsible for his influence on those developers who are new to the industry and seek for advices from his writings. Obviously no one man is perfect and Jeff, like any other, doesn’t necessarily always have great things to say. But at least he should acknowledge that he’s wrong when he’s wrong.

Appendum 2/14
On the contrary to what I think Jeff Atwood should do in the previous paragraph given the large amount of thoughtful comments from many of his readers, he seems to dig himself deeper into the hole with his follow-up post.

Common developers CV’s mistakes

January 21st, 2009 4 comments

Being responsible for hiring developers in almost every position I landed, I’ve screened probably a few hundreds of developers CVs through out my career. Following is the list of mistakes I often found in CVs.

  • First and most common mistakes: the CV lists too many skills. In fact, I’ve seen many CVs with roughly a dozen lines mentioning about many dozens of technologies and tools. In many cases as the on-site interviews revealed, these developers just possessed superficial or absolutely no knowledge about the things they listed. One can only go so far (to the on-site interview) being untruthful. On the other hand, even if these developers really know about these things, among the too many things they list, I can hardly find the ones that should really stand out (i.e. the things that the candidates have expertise in.) Now, there are those of you who really have extensive set of skills under your belt and want to list them all, it’s still better if you can highlight the top skills that you master so that they can stand out from the rest. Most of the time, employers don’t care about the skills you are not really good at. Think about it, would I hire a top .NET developer to write Java code just because the guy happens to know a bit about Java?
  • Some candidates describe what they were supposed to do instead of what they actually did in their previous positions. If one implemented the security module of a software using Spring Security or used Struts 2.0 to implement a web module of another software then I would want to know about that. On the other hand, I don’t want to read a some general job description stating the obvious and of little interest (to me) such as “designed and implemented the application”, “worked with QA to resolve defects”, and “participated in code review” etc. (Guess what, if you’re not doing these things, you are not developers.) On the other hand, some candidates went so far quoting text from the job description while they have not actually carried out such responsibilities and that has resulted in quite a couple of embarrassing on-site interviews. Be very specific about the things that you did is the key to avoid this mistake.
  • Mention too much about the clients and products. As a matter of fact, I’ve seen some CVs in which every project is accompanied with a lengthy paragraph describing the product and its client. Much of this information is pulled out of the marketing information provided in the client’s or product’s website. Keep this in mind: most employers don’t care about the vision of your client organization and the greatness of the product. For the software that you built, only 2 things should be mentioned in the CV: what problem the software solves and what technologies it is built with. Anything other than that is noise and should go away. For the client, the name and a link to their website are more than enough. For the really rare case that I want to learn more about the client, I will find more information through the provided link (or Google, for heaven’s sake).
  • Some CVs mention too trivial projects. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to demonstrate how much passionate you are about this software engineering by listing things like, say, personal projects but there’s no point mentioning some trivial toy or university projects in your CVs. Think about it, how much value the employer gains knowing that a developer can code a Tic Tac Toe game or a shopping cart? Absolutely nothing unless you expect us to say to ourselves “Look, that guy is really cool – he can code Tic Tac Toe.” Save the space for more valuable things instead. If there’s no such thing, better save us some reading time by removing them from the CV.
  • Spelling and grammar mistakes in CVs. I am constantly surprised that many developers don’t even care to do a quick check to make sure no grammatical and spelling mistakes in their CVs. After all, it only takes a few minutes for this check to be done with any word processing software. Without doing this, one risks leaving a bad impression to the recruiter; the impression that the author of this CV is either lazy, doesn’t care about getting the job, about doing the right things, or about going the last mile to get the work done. That might be a harsh conclusion one can come up with given just a few spelling mistakes, but given the sheer amount of CVs recruiters have to screen for any particular position, they are not supposed to be very patient and tolerant of poorly written ones.
  • A bonus tip: don’t be afraid to list your certifications if you have any. This is actually not a common mistake, but since there is a rising number of people who suggest that developers should not include certifications in their CVs, I think it’s worth setting an alarm. Anyone who have under their belt a few certifications know that it’s not the papers themselves that have a lot of value but the actual studying process that one usually gets through to get those papers is valuable. Plus, if one spends the time that would otherwise be spent on vacation or gaming to study and achieve some certifications relevant to her work, it means that she cares, if is not passionate, about her job. And that is never a bad thing. Finally, with all things being equal, some companies would prefer to hire developers with one or more certifications than others because that would help with the partnership process with vendors like, say, Microsoft (like it or not, there are obvious benefits to become partner of the big vendors).

That’s it, the top CV mistakes. Am I missing anything?

When you learn new things, learn from books

August 19th, 2007 26 comments

I can hardly believe that there is any Java developer who never reads a Java book, or “agile developer” who never reads a book on XP, Scrum… Unfortunately, there are just so many many of those. In fact, many people I know/interview have very fundamental gaps in their knowledge and in most cases I discover that it is partly due to the fact that they never spend time learning things from books. Reasons provided often are: not enough time, internet resources are more than enough etc. In most situations, I don’t think it’s a good mindset to develop software. Read more…

The wrong attitude of learning on the job

June 6th, 2007 36 comments

I can’t tell you enough about how much surprised I was when some developers applying for senior .NET development position, when being interviewed by me, could not answer very fundamental questions about a specific technology or programming language as well as were not aware of any trends in the field. What I found out was that usually this had something to do with their attitude towards “learning on the job”. Read more…

More about autonomy…

April 9th, 2007 2 comments

Last month, I wrote about autonomy being the number one characteristic of any employee and that the boss should be able to expect his/her staffs to produce satisfactory work all the time as long as they are clear about the objectives. Some people commented back saying that while autonomy is a good thing, such expectation from the boss is unrealistic and the boss should not rely on his staffs’ work product without examining it thoroughly him/herself. And I did express my disagreement in my responses since it is my belief that any project in which the boss cannot expect his staffs to be autonomous, and anybody can assume that s/he can product any mediocre pile of work and there will always be some other people (e.g. the boss) to review his/her works and spot out the problems for him/her then that project is already destined to be doomed. And while I still hold my position on that matter, I realize that I missed one key variable to make my point better argued: competence.
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The Number One Rule of Being a Good Employee

March 5th, 2007 14 comments

When we are assigned with a task, we are usually expected to:

  1. Provide an estimation of how long it will take to finish the task
  2. Go ahead and start working on it
  3. Report problems and issues preventing the work from being done
  4. Finish the task and report the result

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