What a Developer Isn’t


I asked my boss’s boss if I could help with business development.

No, he said. We need more developers.

Developer. I hate that word. It’s a term used by liberal arts majors who don’t know what the people building the product actually do.

The guy making the iPhone app? Developer. Systems engineer? That’s a developer. The CTO? Developer. QA test automation? Another developer. The sysadmin? Such a developer!

Later I was debating with two founders, both technical, whether a good engineering employee must care about the company’s product.

Of course, one said. Otherwise why would they bother working?

No, the other argued. Some good engineers enjoy building for the sake of it, regardless of the product.

I know engineers who enjoy building for the joy of building. Most good engineers are like this. Unfortunately, there aren’t many job opportunities for these engineers.

A position for an engineering-driven engineer needs to be challenging, with room for growth. The job must require constant learning. Good engineers who aren’t learning turn into bad engineers.

Anything less, and you need an engineer motivated by the product. Or a developer, whatever that is.

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