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Every now and then we'll see an HN thread that asks something like: what do you know now that you wish you would have known when you started programming?

This. This is the thing that took the longest to sink in and had the biggest impact. There were a lot of cool languages, tools, platforms, and systems along the way, and I was stoked picking up each one and coding -- but after decades of that, I realized I was focusing on the wrong thing.

I think the thing that convinced me was when I got to start watching lots of technology teams in the wild across multiple organizations. So many times I would see conversations and tons of problem-solving effort being spent on the tools to solve the problem instead of the problem itself.

A couple of years ago I was teaching tech practices to a team that was deploying on iOS, Droid, and the web. After we went over TDD, ATDD, and the CI/CD pipeline, I emphasized how crucial it was not to silo. When I finished, a young developer took me aside.

"You don't understand. We have coders here who just want to do Java. They want to be the best Java programmers they possibly can be."

I told him that he didn't understand. Nobody gave a rat's ass about people wanting to program Java. They cared about whether the team had both the people and technical skills to solve a problem they have. It would be as if a carpenter refused to work on a cabinet because it wouldn't involve using his favorite hammer. You're focusing on the wrong thing.

Sadly, once you get this, the industry is all too happy to punish you for it. That's because the resume/interview/recruitment world is interested in buzzwords and coolkids tech, not actually whether or not you can make things people want. This means sadly, in a way, if you continue growing, it's entirely possible to "grow out of" programming.




> I think the thing that convinced me was when I got to start watching lots of technology teams in the wild across multiple organizations. So many times I would see conversations and tons of problem-solving effort being spent on the tools to solve the problem instead of the problem itself

Your insight really hit home. Especially since I've been on a new software dev position for about a month now. This is the overwhelming issue that is already reared its ugly head, is massively frustrating and I feel (nearly) powerless to stop it.




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