We introduced you to 7 types of designers in our article 7 Personality Types of Designers Today. Developers have peculiar traits and habits of their own. This article looks at 7 types of developers today and their defining characteristics.
"The best programmers are not marginally better than merely good ones. They are an order of magnitude better, measured by whatever standard: conceptual creativity, speed, ingenuity of design or problem-solving ability."
—Randall E. Stross
Stereotyping is generally not good practice. But we're not trying to squeeze individuals into categories. Rather, delineating these types can help you figure out where you stand and help you understand others.
1. The Self-Help Constructor
The self-help constructor does whatever it takes to get the job done with his experience and skill, no matter how limited.
For example, he may accomplish the job by finding open-source software and other free applications and tools. His best assets are his willingness to learn what he needs to complete the job and his ability to absorb the information like a sponge. He is resourceful, working with whatever is available to him.
Not every client will be impressed. Those who don't know any better will praise his work, but the self-help constructor does not develop applications or plug-ins himself.
He merely exploits existing tools to construct something seemingly new for clients. With the wide range of sophisticated tools available today, this is becoming easier, but much less impressive.
2. The Experienced Old Man
He may not be the hippest guy in this energetic and creative field, but the experienced old man brings something valuable to the table: a wealth of knowledge and experience.
He may appear outdated, unable to keep up with the latest tools and technology, but he is wise and knows the basics like the back of his hand.
His battle stories of bygone days will fascinate and thrill. He may not be the fastest or most technologically savvy, but slow and steady wins the race, and he delivers the goods as he always has.
He proves that the old-school style of coding may be antique but isn't extinct. He may not be your heaviest hitter, but in times of great need, you know you can count on the experienced old man to deliver.
3. The Hardcore Geek
Workaholic doesn't begin to describe the hardcore geek, this martyr of developers. He goes beyond the call of duty to deliver the product and takes great pride in his work.
He spends his lunch hour at his desk working frantically to finish the project ahead of time. When he allows himself a little free time, he reads books, journal articles and the like to improve himself. Very much an introvert, he feels most comfortable in the world of code and programming jargon.
The more code the hardcore geek writes, the more content he feels. As great as he is with code, he makes for a much better worker bee than a leader.
4. The Scholarly Know-It-All
The scholarly know-it-all is a walking encyclopedia on programming. He can spend hours passionately discussing the history of a programming language or dissecting imperfect code.
He is the poet of the programming world, whose code is a work of art that can be appreciated and analyzed. Recursion is his middle name, and he tweaks every block of code to perfection, regardless of timelines or readability.
He sets high standards for himself, and his work sometimes complicates matters: a task that should take only an hour to complete takes him a few months. Mind you, he's not incompetent. On the contrary, he is highly capable; but he makes work for himself by creating new tools and libraries and even reconstructing entirely new systems, all to meet his own standards.
He feels obliged to impart his knowledge to others and share his passion for the theory and technical intricacies of coding and programming. He tries his best to explain to clients why using state-of-the-art technology is so important. Every project is his precious child.
The scholarly know-it-all is great to have on your team, but be sure you can get him to spend his energy on the important details, rather than waste time satisfying his urge to delve into every nook and cranny.
5. The Ninja
The ninja is a man of few words and keeps to himself. While similar to the hardcore geek, he has more in his life than code and work.
He is an enigma: not outright friendly or forthcoming, but he works surprisingly well on a team. Everyone notices his tireless nature but can't figure out how he does everything so well and so quickly. There is much evidence of his work but little evidence that he did it. "Show don't tell" describes his modus operandi best.
Never outwardly frazzled (try as you might to throw him off), he resolves problems quickly and efficiently, regardless of time or place. The ninja's stealth sends chills down your spine, and he leaves you wondering how he managed to accomplish his feat.
A lone ranger, he gets the job done regardless of his status on the team or his relationship with other members. His motto? Don't have doubts; just resolve the problem quickly and efficiently. This no-nonsense attitude makes him an absolute joy to work with.
6. The Clever Ambassador
The clever ambassador is the face of the team. He is outspoken and the unofficial project manager. His knowledge of software development, project workflows and code theory is adequate, but he does very little of the actual programming or work.
He is quick to pick up leads and great at communicating with clients. He is the consummate ring-master, able to please both clients (the ferocious lions) and team members (the elephants that could easily trample him if they wanted).
In his supervisory role, the clever ambassador ensures that every project meets the requirements and satisfies the client. He is the go-between, representing the development team for the client and balancing client satisfaction with practicality.
Having to walk this tight rope, he often feels that he should be better compensated, despite never doing any heavy lifting (i.e. coding). He is the model who sits pretty in front of the camera selling the product, while the rest of the team (make-up artists, hair stylists, etc.) works behind the scenes, receiving lower payment for what amounts to the same work.
7. The Half-Cup Speedster
The half-cup speedster takes on multiple projects at once. He works much faster than most, but his amazing quantity is tarnished by its quality: his speed results from cutting corners and hacking core.
He feels that optimizing and checking code takes too long. His code is messy because he does not follow best practices and never makes use of object-oriented programming (OOP).
Amazingly, despite his code looking like a minefield, the product works just as intended. Cutting corners is generally not good practice, but in an impossible crunch, the half-cup speedster might be the person for the job.
Unfortunately, much like the handwriting of physicians, his code is practically indecipherable. Should someone need to fix a problem that surfaces later, they will surely encounter difficulties. You can't fix what you can't read or understand.
As we've seen, there are many types of developers in the field. Which do you most closely resemble? Have you met anyone who fits any of the categories mentioned here? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below...