Good Developer Idea, Bad Developer Idea

Good Developer Idea: As part of the open culture at a struggling SaaS startup, you give a developer the admin rights to your build and deployment servers.
Bad Developer Idea: You forget to eventually take those rights away when you go into production, and when the Feds come to raid your offices, you learn that the developer has used your servers to host a “Man Seeking Horse” dating site. (Even after you elaborate on how horses can’t use computers, the developer still stands by his idea.)

Good Developer Idea: Create a library that has reusable, generic code for your group.
Bad Developer Idea: Let the least-qualified lunatic in your group take ownership of it and ruin its whole purpose. “So, with the latest changes, you pass your name into the class constructor (like “John”), and the class executes only your code instead of the code that was written by you or Bob. See? It’s shared and reusable. Now leave me alone to snort my lines of molly.”

Good Developer Idea: Writing to log files from your UNIX program or script.
Bad Developer Idea: Porting that program or script to Windows and still writing large log files in the years B.C. (Before Cygwin). On the plus side, when you opened a 100MB+ file, you gained another hour of personal downtime for yourself.

Good Developer Idea: In order to demonstrate a particular method or style, share a project with one of your junior developers/admins and let them use it as a template.
Bad Developer Idea: Forget to stress that the variables in the configuration file are not supposed to stay the same. “Thanks for letting me use your project. Look! My new project ‘PurgeTableData’ works! What did you say about database properties in the config file? More importantly, what’s a config file?”

Good Developer Idea: In the face of a new project being discussed, you argue against the suggestion of an off-the-shelf proprietary technology that doesn’t really fit your company’s needs.
Bad Developer Idea: Even though you may be right, they press you for an alternative, and you don’t have one. Consequently, you are forever known as ‘the whiny bitch’ among your peers, and they force you to wear a burqa in the office as a reminder.

Good Developer Idea: When attempting to find a new candidate for your development team, encourage other developers to be a part of the hiring process and to provide input.
Bad Developer Idea: Not using discretion as to which developers that you encourage. “Okay, so I would eliminate the first guy, since he puts the opening bracket on the same line as the function declaration. Only idiots do that. And the chick…well…we know chicks can’t code. So that leaves the weird guy who carries around his dead, taxidermied daughter. Now that guy can code! I would pick him.”

Good Developer Idea: Working with management, you help to eliminate the method of stack ranking your fellow employees, ensuring that each one is evaluated on individual merit.
Bad Developer Idea: You forget to take into account that they are all essentially worthless, and based on the new system, they are all fired. In turn, they find out where you live, and they burn your house down.

Good Developer Idea: While at Scrum meetings in the company conference room, you use the whiteboard to create a visual map of the next iteration in your project.
Bad Developer Idea: In order to make room, you clear the current board in haste, and without thinking about it, you erase the cartoonish doodle in the corner of the board. When the CEO and his 6-year-old come to the conference room later (so that the kid can proudly show the doodle), the kid erupts with tears. In order to make amends, for the rest of your life, you must now give the kid and the CEO a piggyback ride whenever the both of them are in the office together.

Peter Bolton is the author of Blowing the Bridge: A Software Story and has also been known to be a grumpy bastard on occasion.

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