Watching the pros

2022-11-13 11:14

The other day I had the privilege of observing two experienced 1 programmers get going on a new project. I was able to watch these two teammates join a new codebase — one that I had been working on for a few months, and saw how they approached getting started. I was impressed by how quickly they got to work. Here's some things I noticed:

First, both participants seem to not be very bothered or concerned with what was being built 2. I saw two people who had never seen a codebase before step in, pick up a ticket and get to work. In a sense, I get the impression that for these two, they've gotten to a level where they think on a data level, and that the domain is secondary. When I joined the codebase, at times I was hung up on terminology, and wanting to understand the what of the domain, when really I only needed to focus on, say, a relationship between two models (regardless of what they did).

Next, both participants had development machines up and running in no time. While one was looking at the tickets that they were going to work on, the other was repeatedly running the codebase's test locally to see which tests were flakey. In the span of 10 to 20 minutes the latter had already found a solution to the flakey tests.

More than these two technical things, I was impressed by how easily they both worked in a pairing setting. Both participants seemed to be able to talk fluidly while working. They explained what they were doing as they went along, no matter how simple or complex the task; maybe it was for my sake and the other people in the call, but I could see how useful it was for them to be discussing orally their actions as they did them.

Most of all, I appreciated the openness to broadcasting their own process of discovery. Along the way they asked me questions that I did my best to answer.

More than these two technical things, I was impressed by how easily they both worked in a pairing setting. Both participants seemed to be able to talk fluidly while working. They explained what they were doing as they were working, no matter how simple or complex the task; maybe it was for my sake and the other people in the call, but I could see how useful it was for them to be discussing orally their actions as they did them.

Footnotes

1

Must I add a qualifier? They were both more experiencved than me. :)

2

This might have sounded worse when read than written; I'm trying to say that as consultants, at least, I get the impression that there is a freedom and perhaps even pleasure in being able to get right to the core of a technical problem without being so concerned with what a product does and all of that sort of baggage.