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What makes a good programmer?

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Hey there everyone,

I'm writing this up for people who want to become better programmers in general.

There are a few things that I feel makes a good programmer, but if you think you know of a few more feel free to post them.

Think, then act.

Programmers have a different way of thinking as apposed to the everyday citizen.

They bare a hundred consequences for each action they perform.

A programmer has to be able to think outside of the immediate scope of the problem.

They need to think of the past, present and future when implementing a new feature or changing a specific part of an application.

Before you begin to write a new method/function, stop. Try to explain exactly what this specific function will do and what the implications and/or limitations of it will be, as if you were explaining it to your boss or fellow colleges.

If you are more orientated to practicality and logic-wise principles like me, take a pen and a paper and write it down: draw the method in the form of a diagram about inheritance and control flow.

Thinking before writing is the best and most sought after skills any good programmer has.


POGE (Principle of good enough)

This goes along with the KISS and 80:20 principles, in essence, it means to keep things simple.

A lot of programmer think that writing complex applications/software makes you appear like a good programmer, but this isn't technically correct.

There are three stages to things I create(or, from paper to concept):

  • Prototype
  • Implementation
  • Testing / Release


Some programmers will take twenty-hours to create a new part/division of an application, and other will take ten.

Most people prefer faster programmers, someone that can take a five-line summary of something and turn it into something that "works". It doesn't necessarily mean that it's a looker or that it isn't buggy at first, though.


Always learning.

Passionate programmers are rare, very much so, but one way to spot one is by what they do in they're spare time.

They are as passionate about learning as they are about programmers, and always busy trying to broaden(and strengthen) their skill set.

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Fully agree with you here Spud. I know some "programmers" which want to always try new things or things they are reading about even without really thinking if that method is applicable or not for a given problem or without fully understanding the end goal. I would say a programmer should understand what needs to be done, and if you are doing a software for a given company you should be able to do all the steps MANUALLY before thinking about to code them. Why? Because if you are not even able to make them by hand, how do you believe you will be able to write a code to do it for you?

Programmers are not just people mixing some lines here and there to make something barely work, they should actually use the tools to create what they want. Transform a need / problem into a concept and then create a solution for it.

As spud say, true programmers are actually quiet rare... and valuable ;)

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