Sunday, July 5, 2015

Developer experience, and "you don't have to be big too be cool"

Today I want to talk about something written by @david_bonilla author of a well known weekly mail-list where he publicly meditates on the Spanish software industry, the start-up ecosystem and whatnot.

In his last issue he speaks about how some companies alienate visitors, even business relevant and required visitors in lieu of a poor understanding of security or negotiation or both.

But what first caught my attention was the example he set.
«To a computer techie, your laptop is like the katana for a Samurai. It is not a simple tool of the trade, but an item of such complicity and familiarity, that it is perceived as an extension of one's self. Therefore, when a security guard stamps some sticker on it , it bothers me as much as if was being stick to my forehead or you were to tuck a finger in my nose and revolve counter-clockwise.»
image by solvash

This, besides of showing David's humorous narrative skill's addresses something that has been silently bothering me since I started to thrive as a developer until recently.

At every company I worked for before, I have been provided with a set of tools mostly to the company (usually naive) understanding of my needs. Some were outright crappy, like a 14'' CRT 10 year old clone with no internet.

Some others were a mark or hierarchy/privilege, so when someone new entered the company, new equipment was bought and assigned to the bossiest person, who would pass remains along to ne next and so on, so the new person had the scrapings nobody else wanted.

My last employer did a very good effort to provide powerful and competitive equipment, but they struggled with customizabillity (like fixed provider, fixed OS, fixed -old- OS version...)

At my current company, the smallest I have worked for so far, has been the first to say: «this is your tool, so we pay for it but you must choose what it is to be like». I know it to be a great deal for a company of this size to do this. I came up with a very effective setup free of any extravaganzas. And also was offered to choose chair, laptop stand, screen...

I took me the best of nine years to find someone in Spain understanding what Joel Spolsky was saying back in 2006, and it was not some cool SF start-up, it was a coder-born entrepreneur.

This is an open advise to all that companies throwing sacks of euros/dollars to recruiters, and languishing to find good talent. If you want good and great developers to come to you, and stay with you, stop patronizing, just treat them well, like professionals that know what they are doing, and let everybody know how you roll.