Majority of software developers are aspired to be not only a competent professional but also a great one.
Nowadays, with accessibility to many courses online, it’s not necessary anymore to study to become a great software developer. However, a lot of great programmers went to universities and specialized in computer science. Because getting a degree in CS helps understand architecture better and gives us a holistic perspective on the world of software development in the future.
When I look at many programmers, I see that they are always trying to know about new technologies, languages, trends, and so on.
I also know that coding knowledge is a must, but it does not mean that we should learn whatever there is on the internet.
No one can learn everything.
What I have seen in some great professionals is that they are not only well-versed with technical skills, but also business and people skills. They know what business wants and deliver what companies need. They know how to work with others effectively and deliver more than they could’ve done alone.
Indeed, there are more ways than one on how to become a great programmer, but the best is probably to become a contributing member of a great programming team.
And here there are a few qualities that make for a great software developer:
A great programmer cares about the product. They are dedicated, positive, and patient enough to work through the most tedious and challenging problems. They take pride in their code contribution and make it easy to read and understand for other developers in the team.
If it’s necessary, they will step up and not be dissuaded by the challenge, because they care about what they are doing.
They don’t let their ego get in the way of taking feedback. On the contrary, they are awaiting/seeking constructive feedback about their work and their behavior.
Excellent communication skills directly correlate with excellent technical skills.
A great developer can understand problems clearly, break them down into hypotheses, and propose solutions coherently.
They understand concepts quickly, in the way by asking the right questions and then documenting received answers, not only for themselves but also for the team.
Also, by being a better communicator, they can leverage the strength and specializations of others and offer their own advantages to the folks around them.
It means they are highly reliable and keep in mind deadlines. They know that humans are terrible at predicting the effort and time required to complete a task, but they have become good at it by using techniques, strategies (like Agile points), and tools to help them.
The desire to unselfishly share their knowledge and help other developers improve is another superb quality of great developers.
They help teammates when they get stuck and take criticism well because they are more interested in team achievement than personal. They teach new skills, contribute to open source, and write documentation that not only helps teammates but the developer community in general.
A good programmer does what is asked of them while a great programmer does what is best for the end user of the software.
They will recommend building the solution which is best for the end user, even if it’s a more complicated or difficult opinion.
A good programmer is intelligent, while a great programmer is wise.
In the same way, a good programmer might know tons of algorithms by heart that they use in their code. A great programmer knows which libraries to use, so they don’t have to be constantly writing algorithms.
A good programmer makes sure every functionality works perfectly before delivering. A great programmer manages the scope of the project so that the key features are delivered within the deadline.
A good programmer shows their genius by creating a complex bespoke code. A great programmer solves the problem most simply and efficiently as possible.
In fact, the transition from being a good programmer to great one often comes through passion, dedication, practice, understanding, honest efforts, time, and diverse experience.
(Ten years of diverse background is much greater than one year repeated ten times).
Sometimes they sound and behave a little like business owners. Not like a techno weirdo. They understand their role in the value-added chain and know that they are not only writing code, but they are also providing new value — new opportunities to users, business, and people around them.
The most exceptional programmers are likable and always have time for other developers in the team.
There is a lot of things that are behind being a great developer, and I just listed which qualities I find the most important in great software developers.
One of my goals is the same as yours: being a great software engineer. And more about this journey I am sharing in my weekly newsletter (+bonus “Professional Networking Cheat Sheet”).
I hope this post is helpful to you and if you think of any other essential feature of the excellent software developer, please leave a comment below or reach out to me on Twitter.
Thank you for reading! 🙏
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