[Chicago-talk] Qualify Skills?

Steven Lembark lembark at wrkhors.com
Mon Oct 4 13:16:39 CDT 2004

> Any thoughts on a rule of thumb way to classify a developer?

Regardless of language:

A: You get things done with documented, maintainable
   code, on time, within budget, exceeding your clients'
   expectations, including messy situations with difficult
   data or timeframes. If you cut your teeth on deathmarch
   projects or have return customers then you can probably
   shoot for an A.

B: You get things done, might not docuemnt them fully,
   might not handle messy data as well, have difficulty
   with complex data structures or refactoring code
   then you are probably a B. Finding out whether other
   people can maintain your code (or use it once its
   written) are decent checks.

A & B programmers tend to get assignments working by
themselves or as leads/architects where their work can
screw up other people.

C: Competent working under a lead programmer, can
   produce well-documented, running code given
   workable specs.

D: Lead programmer has to eyeball everything you do
   because it tends to either be error-laden or use
   techniques that belong in the Twilight Zone.
   Requires significant prodding to produce comments
   or doc's.

F: The idiot who writes pong lookalikes in shell because
   noone allows them to work on anything significant.

Most people get different grades on different subject
[hey! just like Real Life(tm)]. Damian Conway is a
brilliant designer, hates comments, doesn't like to
maintain code, and has generated some of the most
unmaintainable code I've encountered (and, yes, I
maintain some of it). He is a wonderful lecturer and
has certianly made "OO Perl" a meaningful phrase.
He is also the last person most people would hire
for development work: he's a tool builder not a
heads-down hacker. So, is he an A or a C? Answer
really is "it depends."

If you really want to find a top-notch perl hacker
look at Tim Bunce or Graham Barr. They've written
some of the least flashy, hardest-working, most-used
perl code ever. Graham in particular has written code
to handle truly messy data structures and exceptions
in networks with workable interfaces. Ditto DBI: it
handels some really messy situations with a simple
interface and Just Works. For someone hiring a perl
hacker that is what really counts.

Steven Lembark                                       85-09 90th Street
Workhorse Computing                                Woodhaven, NY 11421
lembark at wrkhors.com                                     1 888 359 3508

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