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What makes a great developer?

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Written by: Oliver Tappin
We all have this idea of a great developer: highly experienced with masses of knowledge around all areas of development. The thing is, when you’re working in an environment where there are others to help you, that doesn’t always matter. More importantly, that’s not what makes a great developer.

I used to spend hours a day learning new technologies and checking out new frameworks just so I could add them to my CV to boast a broad knowledge. Surely that would impress prospective employers – no?

Depending on the company you decide to work with, they’ll already have their own technologies that they’ll prefer. They might be using them because of legacy systems (and it’s just easier to stick with them) or, the CTO may have chosen them (as it could be their preferred choice). A great example of this is the age-old question most asked by developers during interview: do you use Git or SVN?

As long as your skills are relevant, and you’re happy to learn new things, you’re heading in the right direction. The part that makes a developer great isn’t so much what you know (it certainly helps) but it’s how you go about knowing new things. Understanding the problem, how to go about tackling that problem, the readability of your code, the vigorous testing of your fix and the line-by-line diff checking to make sure you’re happy with what you’re committing (after all, it has your name on it) is exactly what makes a great developer.

If you can be sure that you have personally tested everything you push out, you’ll set yourself a reputation where your managers and other developers around you can be sure the work they’ll ask you to do will not only be done to a high standard, but will be done without any problems. Of course there’ll be bugs and issues that will be overlooked but if you can preempt any of that by checking everything twice, locally (before you push), you know outright that there won’t be any issues.

Also, what makes a great developer may not always relate directly to development itself, but more to building trust and rapport with your team, facilitating solid communication within that team (it works both ways), an aptitude for learning new skills (that can either help you or those around you) and making sure whatever you’ve been tasked to do is done in the right way, fits the brief and works correctly.

Does this sound like you? Hex are always looking for dedicated, innovative code creators. Check out our careers page and apply today.