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Thread: On Becoming a Software Developer

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    Administrator lpetrich's Avatar
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    On Becoming a Software Developer

    Develop this one fundamental skill if you want to become a successful developer of software
    This is the answer for everyone that’s ever asked me this question

    Throughout my career, a multitude of people have asked me what does it take to become a successful developer?
    Author Aphinya Dechalert proposes:
    So what is it that separates those who make it and those who don’t? The answer: the ability to sit at a computer for a long extended time.

    ...
    I can usually tell if a newbie is going to make it past the dreaming stage or not. It’s to do with their ability to sit at a computer for a long extended time and what they chose to do with that time.

    There is a misconception that knowledge will magically appear in your head if you wish for it hard enough. But unfortunately we are not plants and we do not absorb wisdom and experience via osmosis. Learning to code is an active process often spent behind a computer screen.

    Some prefer it in the form of YouTube videos. Some like the interactivity of code-alongs. Some just like to dive right in and get their fingers dirty with code. But all of them have a common trait — they all can sit in front of the computer and remain entertained by the process of learning, of making, of solving and fixing. They are not Facebooking or scrolling aimlessly through Reddit and YouTube, or looking at cat pics and memes. Rather, they are creating worlds in their heads and figuring out where all the joints and hinges are. They enjoy playing architects and gods behind the soft glowing glare of their multiple screens.

    ... A lot of developers nowadays are self-taught, self-directed and self-driven — the key word in this entire sentence is self.
    She has also written How to Get Your First Job As a Developer Without Any Prior Experience - one ought to have a portfolio of coding work, like one's own GitHub site.

    Do you need to be an introvert to become a successful developer? - "It’s more than a simple yes or no"
    The answer is no — but you do need to develop the skill of introvesion if it’s not already there. The ability to introvert into oneself is very different from being an introvert.

    ...
    This ability to introvert into oneself often manifests in the ability to sit at a computer for a long extended time — and for the right reasons.

    Scrolling through Facebook and playing Fortnite for hours doesn’t count. That’s a different kind of sitting in front of the computer.

    I’m talking about the searching, questioning and getting their kicks from playing code architects on their chosen editor.
    So one has to be capable of introversion, even if one is not usually very introverted.

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    Veteran Member James Brown's Avatar
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    I get this way writing shell scripts. I'll be deep in the script, and my wife will come in and say, "Are you ever coming to dinner?"

    <blink><blink> "Whu?"

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    Administrator lpetrich's Avatar
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    Another skill that is valuable is understanding how to use a programming language. It is very unlike using natural language, and I think that good preparation may be algebra. An important feature of algebra is variables, objects whose value is not necessarily fixed. Once one can understand variables and work with them, then one understands an important feature of most programming languages.

    I note this because I recall that someone once found it impossible to understand the idea of variables.

    But once one has learned one programming language, it is usually fairly easy to learn another. Once one understands variables or if-then-else constructs or loops or functions, it is usually fairly easy to transfer what one has learned.

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    You could boil all of that down to: are you interested in the field, and do you enjoy it, not unlike any other field.

    As far as extraversion goes, strong extroversion and programming don't mix. Programming falls within a range of ideal stimulation, and if you need significantly more than it provides you'll quickly get bored. The programmers I've known are pretty much universally introverts, and the ones who go on to management - lead tend to be more balanced between intro-extro.

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    Mazzie Daius fromderinside's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lpetrich View Post
    Once one understands variables or if-then-else constructs or loops or functions, it is usually fairly easy to transfer what one has learned.
    Yet early programming was resplendent with 'go to' and 'jump'. Definitions were all the rigor.

    My brother visualizes and he's an outstanding programmer in Very High Level languages such as APL.

    On the other hand I was pretty good at assembler coding back in the day when such was near the center of programming universe and my strength is numeric associations. I became an enforcer of programming standards in the late seventies during the rise of structured programming. Programs were on their way to huge and errors were becoming the main problem with code.

    Now it seems reactive programming is becoming one of the vogues of modern code. Kind of looks like dependencies are explicitly identified.

    Remember LISP?

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    Administrator lpetrich's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fromderinside View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by lpetrich View Post
    Once one understands variables or if-then-else constructs or loops or functions, it is usually fairly easy to transfer what one has learned.
    Yet early programming was resplendent with 'go to' and 'jump'. Definitions were all the rigor.
    At the hardware level, nearly all control flow is implemented as "go to (address)" instructions, often with "if (condition)" in front of it. The only exception I've ever seen is the "repeat the next instruction some number of times" instruction in a few CPU architectures, like TMS320C28x DSP CPU and Instruction Set (Rev. F), spru430f - TI.com

    Structured programming is implemented in terms of go-to's, and many high-level languages banish explicit go-to's outright.

    Remember LISP?
    Lots of Irritating Superfluous Parentheses I've never used it, however.

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    the baby-eater
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    I also find one has to have a lot of patience for learning new technologies.

    For instance, learning ECMAScript 2015 (ES6) is not only a matter of learning cool new JavaScript features (= fun), but also learning how to configure the extra tooling it entails (= tedious).

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    Veteran Member KeepTalking's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    You could boil all of that down to: are you interested in the field, and do you enjoy it, not unlike any other field.

    As far as extraversion goes, strong extroversion and programming don't mix. Programming falls within a range of ideal stimulation, and if you need significantly more than it provides you'll quickly get bored. The programmers I've known are pretty much universally introverts, and the ones who go on to management - lead tend to be more balanced between intro-extro.
    I have to disagree. My middle sister and I have very extroverted personalities, but we are both programmers. I think the OP hit it on the head, in that you need the ability to introvert oneself. I refer to it as "zoning", sometimes I just need to put on the headphones, and tune out the world around me to crank out the code. On the other hand, I do know some programmers who are very introverted, but for the most part they do not do well in a team setting. If you are going to code as a part of a team, you need to develop interpersonal skills, and that can be hard to do if you are naturally introverted. Not having those skills will be problematic when it comes to having your ideas heard, and trying to influence a project to go in a certain direction. I guess if you are fine with just going along, and don't resent it when you are told to just do something that you know is not the right thing, you could make a go of it as an introvert in a team setting. Otherwise, I think introverts are going to tend more toward independent development, which has a higher potential career reward, but also comes with greater risks. If that "killer app" you are developing by yourself doesn't get any traction once you release it, what are you going to do? I think that is how we end up with a lot of black hat hackers. They can't make it in a team setting, and they can't get people to buy their independent programs, so they turn to hacking for fun and profit. Those hackers get a lot of press, so some may think that all programmers fit the mold of those introverted personalities, but I think the vast majority of programmers are at least somewhat extroverted.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KeepTalking View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    You could boil all of that down to: are you interested in the field, and do you enjoy it, not unlike any other field.

    As far as extraversion goes, strong extroversion and programming don't mix. Programming falls within a range of ideal stimulation, and if you need significantly more than it provides you'll quickly get bored. The programmers I've known are pretty much universally introverts, and the ones who go on to management - lead tend to be more balanced between intro-extro.
    I have to disagree. My middle sister and I have very extroverted personalities, but we are both programmers. I think the OP hit it on the head, in that you need the ability to introvert oneself. I refer to it as "zoning", sometimes I just need to put on the headphones, and tune out the world around me to crank out the code. On the other hand, I do know some programmers who are very introverted, but for the most part they do not do well in a team setting. If you are going to code as a part of a team, you need to develop interpersonal skills, and that can be hard to do if you are naturally introverted. Not having those skills will be problematic when it comes to having your ideas heard, and trying to influence a project to go in a certain direction. I guess if you are fine with just going along, and don't resent it when you are told to just do something that you know is not the right thing, you could make a go of it as an introvert in a team setting. Otherwise, I think introverts are going to tend more toward independent development, which has a higher potential career reward, but also comes with greater risks. If that "killer app" you are developing by yourself doesn't get any traction once you release it, what are you going to do? I think that is how we end up with a lot of black hat hackers. They can't make it in a team setting, and they can't get people to buy their independent programs, so they turn to hacking for fun and profit. Those hackers get a lot of press, so some may think that all programmers fit the mold of those introverted personalities, but I think the vast majority of programmers are at least somewhat extroverted.
    I mention strong extroverts, not all extroverts. I don't think the field is solely under the purview of introverts, but if you're way up the extrovert meter it's very likely that you're not a programmer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KeepTalking View Post
    I think the vast majority of programmers are at least somewhat extroverted.
    Sure, it's a stereotype that all programmers are these extreme introverts or likely on the Autism spectrum, but I think that programmers tend to be introverts compared to the larger population. There's even a name for those that aren't: brogrammers.

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