The 14 characters you meet as a coder

Are you a Developer Diva? Perhaps a Holy Priest of technology? Or maybe you're the Hipster Hacker from Hell? Let's find out ...

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The Hipster Hacker from Hell. We really need to rewrite all of our software in Haskell because then our code will be beautiful. Never mind the costs! Did I say Haskell? Haskell was so last year. I mean Clojure because it will be simple! Bugs? Features? I have no time for such trivial matters. I have a whole new architecture to write in Ceylon!

The Architecture Astronaut. This developer loves complexity and never sees a problem too simple to deserve a multitier, distributed system using a Java application server, multiple message queues, SOAP-based Web services with distributed transactions, and native code in C++ for good measure. When not designing byzantine architectures, astronauts immerse themselves in the WS-* specs or CORBA manuals. They may be found associating with Hipster Hackers from Hell, scheming up a new distributed system built in a combination of Erlang, Scala + Akka, Node.js, and Haskell. The astronaut will try to spend at least half of the allocated time for the project drawing UML diagrams and "fleshing out the architecture." Mantra: "The project isn't done until it uses at least 7/8 of the patterns in the GoF book."

The Insecure Evangelist. This guy/gal designed the entire system, but is threatened by new suggestions from just about anybody. Basically, my ideas are good and yours are bad, unless I repackage them as my ideas.

The Code Poet. The poet's code is elegant and conforms beautifully to design patterns. On the other hand, the Code Poet holds you up in meetings forever and never notices the missed deadlines or the annoyed looks on other peoples' faces.

The Cloud Zealot. This character has never heard of (or doesn't believe in) the eight fallacies of distributed computing and couldn't spell "SLA" if you spotted him the "S," "L," and "A." However, they can leap on a trending buzzword like a lion stalking a gazelle on the savannah. The Cloud Zealot races to move everything "to the cloud" with no regard for security, latency, network outages, data interoperability, vendor lock-in, or the long-term viability of the SaaS vendor du jour. Secure in his knowledge that no fly-by-night SaaS offering has ever been hacked, leaking usernames, email addresses, and unencrypted passwords for every user account, the Cloud Zealot sleeps easy. Lucky for him, he'll have moved on to a new company before you discover that all of your employees identities are for sale by the Russian mafia.

The Traditionalist. "Why would you ever need anything other than Java and an Oracle DB?" "You should definitely run your application on WebSphere." "Oh, you want to send messages between nodes? Let me prepare the XML schema."

The Uber Traditionalist. This party thinks Java is too newfangled and unproven for production use, preferring to develop on an AS/400, in RPG, using the SEU. The UT spends most of his time regaling you with tales of his youth, when the VAX was still a technological marvel and the PC was yet to be born. He probably built his first computer from raw transistors on a breadboard and never hesitates to remind the Hipster Hacker from Hell (his mortal enemy) that "the ideas in Node.js were originally developed in SNOBOL in the '70s, you know" or "Haskell is just a less pure and inferior LISP in many ways."

The Proprietary Priest. Telltale signs: Insists that all solutions should use proprietary tools from a trusted name; Perforce, Websphere, AIX, Oracle -- you get the idea. If Microsoft, IBM, or some other corporation didn't write it, then it must be crap.

If you recognized bits of yourself in the above, you may have enough introspection to avoid totally being one. If you don't think any of it applies to you, then almost certainly the people you work with know exactly which of the above you match.

Great software is never a solo endeavor. Figuring out that it isn't all about you is probably your first step.

This article, "The 14 characters you meet as a coder," was originally published at Keep up on the latest developments in application development and read more of Andrew Oliver's Strategic Developer blog at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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