5 Software program Developer Competencies – DZone

A geek programmer acquires applied sciences like shiny instruments in a utility belt. However each expertise is solely a set of patterns expressed in a language, and most patterns are usually not new; if we perceive the patterns, we are able to readily perceive any expertise that embodies them.

At varied instances in my life, I’ve geeked out on programming, however I don’t assume that’s the hallmark of an excellent developer. What could possibly be unsuitable with a gifted developer who offers 110% creating clear, correct maintainable code from 9 to five, enjoys lunch whereas speaking about something however work, and goes house to a life unleashed from a keyboard?

Listed here are what I feel are the 5 key competencies of a developer. To see why they’re vital, take into consideration what software program is: it’s not an infinite collection of statements, nor a set of arbitrary calls to an API, neither is it solely cut-and-paste. As an alternative, it’s a community of hierarchies of code—extremely structured, with little copied code—primarily replicated patterns (not essentially the GOF patterns however ones like “lazy initialization,” “model-driven code era,” or “scripting in XML”). It’s additionally solely helpful if it meets enterprise necessities and is of sufficient high quality. So, we have to assess the abilities that allow a developer to fulfill these targets.

Sufficient preamble; let’s go.

1. Analytical: Structured, Clear, Important Thinker, and Downside Solver

The issue is that lots of people mistake poise, confidence, or speedy steady speech for intelligence. So, we must be very clear concerning the hallmarks of intelligence for a developer.

Software program is all about practical and structural decomposition, so I feel the important thing facet of intelligence is to be analytical by nature, nurture, or drive of will. An analytical individual will take into account a query or downside from a number of angles, selecting the most effective common strategy after which breaking the issue down into sub-problems.

You possibly can detect this competency in an interview fairly simply as a result of the candidate will naturally search to make clear an ambiguous query or checklist the components and relationships of an answer or “prime and tail” an issue to establish its scope earlier than going into particulars.

To detect this competency, you don’t have to provide them a brand new downside, simply ask them to explain nearly something: a software program product they labored on, object orientation, the roles or technique of software program improvement, the web, internet, or equally the structure of an actual, or perfect metropolis, the character of democracy, the definition and operation of evolution, and many others.

When the outline is full, ask your self in case you have heard an enumeration of the items or if the candidate has described the center of the matter; that’s analytical.

2. Summary: Able to Figuring out and Understanding Abstractions and Patterns

Software program is advanced; you can’t perceive it by merely studying each line of code. You understood it by on the lookout for construction, constructing a idea of how the code is modeled, after which verifying and altering that mannequin as you learn.

Growing new software program is so much like understanding an present program, besides that the mannequin doesn’t but exist, solely the “idea” of that software program in your thoughts. Your program expresses the speculation within the mannequin of code.

In case you assume by way of abstractions, writing a practical or technical specification will not be that totally different from coding, besides that the language is a human one, and the interpreter might be a number of human minds. A specification is summary as a result of no program can run it, however whether it is correct, full, clear, and well-structured (all qualities we search in code), then a developer can implement it.

3. Exact: The Means To Categorical One thing Concisely and Precisely

Some builders handle to be considerably profitable by solely replicating examples; they search for one thing near what they need to implement after which tweak it. That is like sculpting, besides when it’s achieved with code, the result’s normally not very clear, not very concise, and doubtless not totally correct.

Equally, some builders can solely clarify issues by instance, not by naming the underlying ideas or patterns. That is acceptable however might be a stumbling block as a result of they’re much less more likely to acknowledge, perceive, and apply patterns on the micro or macro stage in code.

A developer who might be exact (however not essentially speedy or spectacular) in speech will develop extra exact code and extra simply clarify a way or a requirement to a different developer.

4. Prioritized and Pragmatic: The Ability of Recognizing What Should Be Carried out Versus What May Be Carried out

The agile strategy naturally favors writing as we speak’s code as we speak. Even in firms that do waterfall improvement, it’s nonetheless a significant ability to have the ability to distinguish between the important and the attainable.

Merchandise are sometimes solely totally profitable by being delivered on time. A practical developer does what’s wanted, creating just a few hooks and writing the feedback that lay the groundwork for tomorrow.

Pragmatism can be demonstrated by the will to attain, full, and end; this drives and encourages us to outline what’s success, helps us prioritize the best way to get there, and focuses on the completion of duties moderately than on gold-plating.

5. Idealistic: The Need To Do Issues Proper

A developer who is simply pragmatic can generally be lazy; not solely do they solely develop as we speak’s performance, however they solely code for as we speak, not for the developer who has to take care of that code tomorrow.

An idealistic developer really cares about all the qualities of what they ship:

  • They guarantee they perceive the necessities.
  • They take into account and presumably even doc the take a look at instances earlier than they write a line of code.
  • They write code that’s clear and adequately commented; they constantly refactor, in order that frequent code strikes into shared strategies after which into base or helper lessons.
  • They write unit take a look at instances to guard different builders and testers from bugs.
  • They persistently do guide testing the place an automatic take a look at is impractical.

Idealism and pragmatism are essential counterparts, balancing and informing the choices a developer makes all day lengthy.

Different Competencies

Naturally, there are different competencies:

  • Focus: writing software program is a fancy job of transcribing a mannequin of the thoughts into code.
  • The flexibility to know and use applied sciences.
  • The will to study and enhance all the abilities they must be efficient individually and as a part of a software program supply group.
  • The popularity that their expertise are sometimes meaningless except they mesh with the opposite roles on their staff and different groups.


One ultimate competency; nonetheless, is one which all of us want; the power to acknowledge that there is no such thing as a uniquely priceless set of expertise or behaviors. In any group, there are a number of methods to achieve success, many roles to fill, and a person’s work is simply half of a bigger course of, all of which must work to achieve success.

Good folks generally overlook different kinds of intelligence; it helps if we keep the will to attain mutual respect and provide our views as an opinion, even when we consider we’re correcting an error—you’d be shocked how typically we confuse opinions and views as info.

Nonetheless, a developer would do effectively to have the competencies above; then they’re effectively positioned to advance of their profession on the technical observe to develop into a senior developer, then a improvement lead and later an architect, or on the administration observe the place integrity, a ardour for respect, and the will to encourage and assist others to attain are much more key.