Have you ever wondered whether you can consider yourself a good software developer? If so, you probably also wondered what it means to be a good software programmer. What are the skills of a good software engineer? What are the differences between the bad and the good one? Is this just a matter of experience? Is this connected with knowledge and practice or rather with some inborn abilities? How to become a good software developer? Let me share with you my definition of a good programmer.

1. Analytical mind

There is no strict definition of an analytical mind. One thing is for sure: if you have an analytical mind you are able to think, observe data, remember and basing on these activities, resolve problems.

Unfortunately,  this is the most crucial and needed skill of a good software developer. Why “unfortunately”? Well this means that not everybody can become a good software developer, even if they really struggle. Having analytical mind is to a big extend an inborn ability. If you do not possess this skill it is better to change the field of interest.

Solving many algorithmic and logic problems can increase the basic level of analytical thinking ability. However, every person has their own border (“maximum level” – like in RPG games) which can’t be exceeded.

2. Big-picture perception of a software

Creating software is like playing chess – to win you need to predict a few moves ahead. You should not only look at the presence but also into the future while programming. To be a good software developer you can’t only be focused on a small piece of software that you are implementing. You don’t only need to know how to implement something, but also why. You need to see the software as a whole not just as the small part you are currently working on. You need to understand the impact of your small piece on the whole. All in all, you simply need to see the bigger picture.

3. Business oriented approach to software development

In my definition of a good software developer, it is not enough to be technically oriented. You can be a good coder and your code can be of a really high quality, but still you won’t manage to understand and satisfy your customers’ needs. If you are not business oriented, it can potentially cause a lot of problems: misunderstandings, usability lacks or late changes in the functionality.

So, what does it mean to be a business oriented software developer? There are many factors that influence this feature of a developer, but in my opinion the most relevant are the below ones:

  • Understanding software from a business perspective
  • Appreciation of client’s needs
  • The ability of converting business problems into technical solutions
  • The ability to cooperate and understand people from non-technical stuff

4. Teamwork eagerness

A good software developer is not a person who sits for the whole day in front of the computer and codes. If a project is supposed to be successful, the communication inside the team is crucial. Exchanging thoughts, ideas, knowledge and experience can boost the efficiency and the quality of the solution. A developer who is not eager or able to communicate with other team members will not be able to fit in the team and in the process of developing software. I am aware that there are many very introverted developers who are doing really a great job and produce high-quality code. Yet in Agile, which is more and more common amongst IT companies, pure coding is not enough. Communication inside a team is one of the major keys to success.

Agile World needs good programmers

The above definition of a good software developer wouldn’t be applicable several years ago. If we weren’t agile, probably any good coder could be considered a good developer. But we are. Nowadays the IT world needs good Agile software developers who are able to analyze problems, see them from a broader perspective, are business oriented and eager to work in teams. Without them IT projects could not be handled by means of Agile methodology. Agile manifesto would become just a set of insignificant principals, not used by anyone. 

What is your opinion on this subject? Do you think there are more abilities and skills that are required to be a good software developer? Is your definition of a good programmer different from the one displayed above? Feel free to share your own opinion below. 

.Net Team Lead @Goyello. Dedicated to .NET technologies, especially ASP.NET MVC. After hours plays squash, reads fantasy books and spends time with friends.