As software developers, we live in a time where the pace of innovation is incredible. And it just keeps getting faster. This in turn constantly generates new technical, functional and business requirements.
As a side effect, some people are looking at new tools, libraries, components or processes as a way to deal with this chaos. Everyone is trying to solve issues plaguing their development pipeline. Test-driven development, continuous integration, micro-services and even the Cloud are marketed as the proverbial saviors. Could they be the Holy Grail to solving our perceived lack of productivity?
It’s true that these recent improvements can really be game changers that make possible some incredible feats. We’re all experiencing the results of these latest trends each and every day. For instance, I recently got a response from Basecamp customer support in under a minute and got another email a few hours later confirming that the fix had been pushed to production and was now available for me to use.
These miracles may however hide a basic truth. My perspective on this is that we often neglect the core skills of writing good quality code.
Management may hope that, by layering processes and tools on top of average coders, they will solve their quality and productivity issues. A great coach with great strategies cannot compete if all he has is an homogeneous team of average players. You need a couple of concession players, a few veterans, some wild horses with innate abilities and a staple of hard working, consistently good players.
As problem solvers, members of the coding community need to keep sharpening their skills by writing code and having it reviewed by peers. A great and easy way to do this is to encourage all software developers to participate in ongoing code writing drills and challenges. Sites like CodeEvalcome to mind.
At the heart of things, we are coders. We are not operators of tools, who are just applying some predefined recipes and processes. We should strive to be experts at the art of writing good code. This is the true foundation upon which everything else will stand.