Friday, December 16, 2005

The Codewright and the Code Monkey

How To Tell the Difference Between the Code Monkey and the Codewright.

One day I was thinking, excuse my French, about what made a good developer. There have been many labels used to describe various coders, the cowboy, the prima donna, etc. I wanted to focus on both ends of the spectrum. I feel like the contrast is instructive. I've found myself coming back to two terms in particular. The Codewright and the Code Monkey. The Codewright is a cross between an architect and a shipwright; the designer and master craftsman put together. The Code Monkey comes from the image of an group of monkeys, either in a zoo or in the wild, being terrorized by a single individual who gets away with it by being louder and more obnoxious than the rest.

The Code Monkey makes a lot of noise, because they need everyone around to know they are there without inviting closer attention; looks really active with lots of arm flailing, because this looks very similiar to productive work but is much easier; gorges themselves on the best resources (bananas) in reach, because they deserve it since they doing so much work; produces prodigious amounts of excrement, because they operate under the assumption that quantity is better than quality; and is blissfully unaware of the effect they have on others, because they don't stick around to see the results of their efforts. Here is a site that has collected plenty of evidence for the existence of the oft-sighted, rarely-tamed Code Monkey

The Codewright makes little noise, because he's thinking about how to solve the problem; moves slowly when he moves at all, because he's measuring twice and cutting once; is a resource in and of themselves, because they freely dispense wisdom to those patient enough to listen; produce works of such utility and craftmanship that they are still in use decades after their creation; and is acutely aware of the success of their work, because they know that producing poor quality work is as foolish as poisoning the well from which you get your drinking water.

So, are you a Code Monkey or are you a Codewright?

p.s. I noticed a good article that talks about the effect of people on the development process itself.
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