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 Developer value lies not just in their knowledge, experience and skills, but the software they create.

Companies are using more software than ever, but view developer as costs instead of assets.

Code is viewed as a liability once created (because you now need to maintain it), and developers are costs once hired.

There is a lot more to developers than code, and a developer contribution goes far beyond just the code they write.

Twitter Developer Cull

Elon Musk’s actions highlight the confused view people have of developers.

The first week after buying twitter, Musk lays off half of the workforce and attempts to assess developers by the number of commits they make.

Assessing developers by a number of commits or lines of code created views developers as purely code creating machines.

Developers have knowledge of how the software works, what code is important, how to fix problems, what to check. Knowledge is gained from experience, developer can’t get this knowledge quickly.

Code in different projects isn’t the same, functionality and code bases are unique. A code base is like a person. It has a personality and is not like other code bases.

The article explains this knowledge/experience as

  • know how?
  • know what?
  • know where?
  • know why?

Unique knowledge is in the heads of developers who have worked at twitter, you can’t measure this knowledge by lines of code or numbers of commits.

When developers leave where does the knowledge go?  Even with this theoretical knowledge, it won’t be useful until a developer has added, changed or removed the actual code. Interact with the code with a definite purpose.

You don’t get better as a developer by reading, watching, or taking courses. Development is a skill. You get better by writing code and creating software.

Understanding existing software and code only happens when you change it and write/change or remove code. Developers have to work with code to understand it.

Focus on code creation

Most software development focuses on the creation of code, not the quality. Code is the last step not the first.

Thinking, design and understanding the requirements is needed before you can create the right software. Code is the last step, not the first.

Software development is obsessed with the speed of creation. Creating code quickly is easy, but it gives the illusion of speed and progress.

Running fast in the wrong direction doesn’t get you to your destination quicker. What software development should focus on is velocity, the speed of a development team is how fast it moves in the right direction.

Velocity measures speed with direction.

Velocity in software development involves understanding the business, the goals, and refining the requirements to help create the right software.

 70 percent of the cost of code is maintaining it, quality saves money in the long term.

Code quality and good development practices are not appreciated by Elon Musk. Musk wants developers who work long hours and who outwork problems. The developers who stay will burnout, as they quickly create growing pile of technical debt.


If you view developers as merely code monkeys, this devalues or ignores the other knowledge developers have.

In this article, I asked when developers leave where does the knowledge go. Without knowledge, development is difficult and making mistakes is easy.

Knowledge such as

  • Business knowledge
  • Knowledge of the existing software
  • Knowledge of existing code
  • Knowledge of existing tools and service
  • Knowledge of standards and processes
  • Knowledge of environments

For those people who say this knowledge isn’t valuable, then I will point to the fact it takes 4 to 6 weeks for new developers to onboard. During this time, not only do the developers operate at 50 percent capacity, but they take time away from your existing developer who need to onboard them.

 It takes time to get up to speed of what’s important and it won’t be the same as previous projects/jobs.

There are a few interesting quotes in the article

“More than seven in 10 (71%) of respondents said they agree that the Great Resignation is contributing to organizational knowledge loss, and 64% feel that their organization has experienced loss of knowledge due to people leaving the company”

The value of developer isn’t just the code but their contribution to the team, knowledge and process.

How You Develop Is as Important as the Code You Write and the Software You Create

Developers as a commodity

As the demand for developer has increased, so has viewing developers as commodities.

Developers are not commodities, individual developers can make a tremendous difference on a project.

How and why are developer become seen as commodities?

 Developers being seen as commodities is due to people creating plans where developer are a row on an excel spreadsheet. It’s a small step to see all developers as developers.

Developer specialise in particular skills/technologies/languages. To become an expert they use and learn that particularly technology and gain experience in it (by making mistakes and learning).

People and teams

Relationships take time to create and, once created, individuals work more effectively and faster together. You learn how different people work, where individuals are more knowledge and how to work together.

People make the tough job of development fun and support each other.

Assessing developers purely on code will miss the important human element.

Individuals make a big difference in development.

© 2022 RS ITHub

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