Reflecting on the 10 commandments of Egoless programming.

Developer workstation screen

The 10 commandments of Egoless programming is a must-read piece for all developers, Software Engineer, IT Project Managers, Tech Leads and as a Tech Engineer who took on a full-time Mobile Application Developer and at the time of publishing this articles working as a software Projects Implementation consultants, I couldn’t agree more that reflecting on these commandments every now and then brings out the best of our kind, So allow me to share my lessons.

Today’s ever-growing technology space is continually being dominated by developers than just ordinarily tech personnel which is a big reason today more than ever “the 10 commandments of Egoless programming” should be the moral guide for all those seeking to solidify a career in software development, software engineering and all application or system development related endeavours.

Stop making things to be about you. Shit happens and life goes on. Let go & let live.”- I tell myself this whenever I feel like the world is crumbling in on me. A Kobe Bryant inspired phrase while sharing life lessons drawn from his famous Mamba Mentality This very much applies to software development as well.

Kobe Bryant at the Indian Express Interview
Kobe Bean Bryant                               Image SourceThe Indian Express

“It’s not about you, man. Like ok, you feel embarrassed you are not that important like, get over yourself. That’s where you go,” –Kobe Bean Bryant (Deceased)

Jerry Weinberg coined the term “egoless programming” in the book, The Psychology of Computer Programming, first released in the 1970s. What Weinberg wrote in that book was a set of guidelines for developers working in a team environment to keep their egos separate from their code.

  1. Understand and accept that you will make mistakes.
    The point is to find them early before they make it into production. Fortunately, except for the few of us developing rocket guidance software at JPL, mistakes are rarely fatal in our industry, so we can, and should, learn, laugh, and move on.
  • Personally, programming mistakes have and still cause me a lot of frustration, which in turn takes up task completion time. Working with a team has helped me grow into the habit of asking or seeking help.
  1. You are not your code.
    Remember that the entire point of a review is to find problems, and problems will be found. Don’t take it personally when one is uncovered.
  • I’m learning not to get too attached to the code I write. I have grown to appreciate being my own critic and reviewer before my colleagues and boss step in. That is still working in progress though.
  1. No matter how much “karate” you know, someone else will always know more.
    Such an individual can teach you some new moves if you ask. Seek and accept input from others, especially when you think it’s not needed.
  • GitHub, Stack overflow, medium to mention but a few are among the very many sources of help I have grown to appreciate outside my immediate workplace or social tech circles. Colleagues and team leads contribute a lot to the professional growth of any junior developer.
  1. Don’t rewrite code without consultation.
    There’s a fine line between “fixing code” and “rewriting code.” Know the difference, and pursue stylistic changes within the framework of a code review, not as a lone enforcer.
  • Team meetings and daily standups have been lifesavers more than ever in my career even though I have not always liked them starting out. It’s always during those sessions that timely feedback can change the tide of a project or code review. Document your code and also learn to read documentations for code, software, frameworks etc.
  1. Treat people who know less than you with respect, deference, and patience.
    Nontechnical people who deal with developers on a regular basis almost universally hold the opinion that we are prima donnas at best and crybabies at worst. Don’t reinforce this stereotype with anger and impatience.
  • Today you know it all, tomorrow you do not. Most importantly opinions and views matter in the tech space as every idea however small can be the next best solution to a complex, reoccurring or previously failed to solve problem.
  1. The only constant in the world is change.
    Be open to it and accept it with a smile. Look at each change to your requirements, platform, or tool as a new challenge, not as some serious inconvenience to be fought.
  • Sometimes change is unavoidable and incases you don’t agree with changes, the best approach is to always see the opportunities therein.
  1. The only true authority stems from knowledge, not from position.
    Knowledge engenders authority, and authority engenders respect — so if you want respect in an egoless environment, cultivate knowledge.
  • You can never go wrong with having a thirst to constantly grow your knowledge.
  1. Fight for what you believe, but gracefully accept defeat.
    Understand that sometimes your ideas will be overruled. Even if you do turn out to be right, don’t take revenge or say, “I told you so” more than a few times at most, and don’t make your dearly departed idea a martyr or rallying cry.
  • Those days can be very hard to get through but then again they are usually the days you learn and grow the most.
  1. Don’t be “the guy in the room.”
    Don’t be the guy coding in the dark office emerging only to buy cola. The guy in the room is out of touch, out of sight, and out of control and has no place in an open, collaborative environment.
  • This has been particularly very hard for me as I believe it is for a lot of techies and developers as collaborating requires keeping in contact with colleagues, clients and non-technical bosses which often leads to a lot of wasted time for a developer or technician otherwise valuable bonding time for the non-technical person. All I can say is this is a grey area.
  1. Critique code instead of people
    Be kind to the coder, not to the code. As much as possible, make all of your comments positive and oriented to improving the code. Relate comments to local standards, program specs, increased performance, etc.
  • Need I say more?!

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