From Good To Great Developer – Spring Tour 2009

Posted by Chris on January 30, 2009

Last year, after a user group meeting, me and Kim Gräsman were talking over a beer about how hard it was to get everyone else to care about code the way we do. For instance, there we where at a user group meeting, while ‘they’ were not. This got me thinking about what we usually do when we try to ‘help’ others see things our way. We try to teach them things such as refactoring, design patterns and TDD, with no other result than us becoming frustrated when people do not understand or want to use them.

Further thinking led to a presentation, titled Great Developers, that I gave at the SweNUG Code Camp last summer. There I talked about what I believe a great developer to be, and how they work with code to produce a great result. I had the opportunity to do this again a couple of times during the autumn, and I also submitted the presentation for a couple of conferences during this spring.

JFokus 2009I did however change the title, and also the abstract, since my main point in the presentation moved from ‘what is a great developer’ to ‘why are we having trouble helping good developers become great developers‘. This week I gave this presentation to 300-350 people at the JFokus 2009 conference in Stockholm, Sweden. I think it went really well, and I hope people liked it. At least one person commented afterwards:

Your presentation has been one of the most concrete, clear and to the point presentation I have heard since a long time ago, and I can mention that my motivation regarding what you have said has changed.

With the Java-people covered, I move my focus to the Microsoft TechDays conference in Västerås, Sweden on the 17th to 18th of March 2009. And if you happened to miss me on any of these occasions, there is a final chance at the Scandinavian Developers Conference in Göteborg, Sweden, on March 24th.

I hope to see you at some of these events! Take a look at the lineup of speakers for them, they promise to be great sources of inspiration and learning.


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  • I think that anyone choosing your talk among all the others at TechDays already is, or is on a path to be, great at whatever they are doing. We need arguments and inspiration for our casue, but I think we all have at least on person nearby that would have gained more by seing your talk in person.

    So I assume 'they' are the ignorant incompetent people outside of the room. ;)

  • Johan, I agree completely that the participants are already on their way. That is why I tailored the talk to help these people, the greats that want to help others become great, figure out what they might be doing wrong and how I think they should work to achieve that goal.

  • Hi!

    I also attended this presentation at the TechDays and liked it a lot. You mentioned a book about Java design patterns, or something of the kind, during the session. Perhaps written by Kenneth Beck (sp?) or something? What is the title of the book and who wrote it? :) You recommended everyone to read it.

  • Hi Kristoffer!

    The book I mentioned was Implementation Patterns, by Kent Beck. I think it is a great start for a development team to use as the foundation of a common coding guideline. Read it in a study circle format, discuss it and decide what you agree upon. That will be your initial coding guideline. Make sure to discuss this once a month (or how often you want to, just do it recurrently).

    Good luck!

  • Gösta Forsum

    Hi i also saw your presentation at techdays. It was great.

    Minor comment:
    In the beginning of the presentation i got the impression that "Dan" (or whatever the great developer was called) was a good developer that would transform himself into a great developer.

    I think that your point would be even clearer if you explained clearly in the beginning of the presentation that "Dan" is a great developer.

    I have been working much in a situation very similar to the one you described in the talk and have had som success and some "slow progress".
    I will try to use more inspiration and less teaching for the "unconscious incompetent" cases i encounter.

    I am quite convinced that this will give me higer success rates.

    Thanx for the inspiration!

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