What Today’s New Programmers Could Learn from Veterans

While many veteran programmers have skills that their younger counterparts will never need, many also say they have experience that could come in handy to today’s developers. Here’s a quick overview of the skills experienced programmers say that newcomers lack:

  • Hardware knowledge. “I see people more often having difficulty in thinking through problems caused by buggy hardware, and in general, folks have minimal real understanding of the hardware issues and the implications of the downstream errors that hardware errors can cause,” says Bernard Hayes.
  • How to de-bug without a de-bugger. “Today,” says Kris Rudin, “there are occasionally times with you can’t use the integrated debugger in your IDE (usually with some weird Web application frameworks and server configurations), and younger programmers are at a loss as to what to do, and resort to hack-and-slash coding to try to randomly fix a bug, using guesswork. Me, I just calmly put in some code to display output values on the web page, find the bug, and fix it.”
  • Careful design and thorough specification. Suford Lewis advises that young programmers learn “the ‘think about it first’ method. So many times I have seen software from single programs to large systems developed with insufficient attention to what was requested — and what the requestor actually meant by it!”
  • Working within network and performance constraints. Ben Summers says the “habits learned when writing web applications for 14.4kbps dial-up telephone modems come in rather handy when dealing with modern day mobile connections.”

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