I have just come across a great article byÂ Alex Iskold entitledÂ Top 10 Traits of a Rockstar Software Engineer. It is a must read for all aspiring software engineers out there… especially those who are still learning the skills in a university.
The 10 traits he mentions are:
- Loves To Code
- Gets Things Done
- Continuously Refactors Code
- Uses Design Patterns
- Writes Tests
- Leverages Existing Code
- Focuses on Usability
- Writes Maintainable Code
- Can Code in Any Language
- Knows Basic Computer Science
Phew! What can I say more? Apart from telling all of you to read the article thoroughly and to pay special attention to the various books he refers too.
a summary of what i have learnt what software engineering is (from univ):
A boring lot of theoritical stuffs with diagrams and standards that doesn’t really serve any purpose to help any better at understanding the problem. Basically, write reports rather than make something useful and beautiful.
:p ofcourse the above is just my opinion and what the way things have been forced into my brain when i did software engineering, no one in no way can argue with that.. as it is… just my humble opinion….
Ketwaroo D. Yaasir says
11. plays guitar hero
Yes, I have to agree.
I play Guitar Hero too on my Playstation 2 ;-)
Personally, I don’t understand the reasons behind Software Engineering as it is obvious, for me at least, that building software has nothing to do with engineering techniques.
Rather it requires inspiration, artistry, a sense of aesthetic and a lot of culture.
I should write a module syllabus called “Aesthetic Programming” :-)
StÃ©phane Lee says
The most important thing is to write good documentation. Without it, all your code is just a pile of scribbling.
I am not too sure about writing separate paper documentation.
Rather, I prefer the Javadoc approach. Write sensible comments and have a tool extract them in a separate document when needed. This looks like #8 to me: Write Maintainable Code.
There is a problem with drawings (UML for example) though.
Stephane: Good documentation is really important indeed (else i wouldn’t have managed to understand the power and beauty of symfony :p), nevertheless, trying to FORCE people to use a set of standards to document their works isn’t really a perfect example of freedom of choice :D… documentations that doesn’t follow those S.E standards can even be better and more readable than S.E reports.
ps. setting out standards just limits the flexibility one can have.
StÃ©phane Lee says
Writing in the headers is not enough. You need design documentation, end-user documentation…
The big problem is design documents like class diagrams. I have read about software developers who take pictures of their whiteboards regularly (in fact, I did that once when we were implementing a database schema…). Version control is tough though…
I am not too sure about end-user documentation though as those are, most of the time, written by non-programmers, isn’t it?
waow: “can code in any language”
That’s nice. Its good to be never religious on a particular language.
quote: A good engineer knows that and is willing and able to learn new languages, new libraries and new ways of building systems.
“How can you build large scale software without knowing the difference between a linked list and an array?”
I recently learnt this from Programming Methodology module!
One question Sir:
What is the difference between Software Engineering, Software Architecture and Simply Programming?
Nice question, Ashesh:
Programming is the process of explaining to a (stupid) computer how to solve a problem by using a formal language known as a programming language. Most people find programming tough as we are not used to interact with stupid entities where perfect precision is required.
Software Architecture is somewhat like the plan for a large building. It focuses on high-level constructs and has objectives such as overall availability, reliability, performance, security, maintainability, etc. For example, if you want a software to exhibit high availability, you might use redundancy and this is called an architectural decision. From this, a designer will propose a solution with, say, N servers and a load-balancer which a programmer will implement.
From Wikipedia, “Software engineering is the application of a systematic, disciplined, quantifiable approach to the development, operation, and maintenance of software.” I am not a big fan of the term Software Engineering as this seems to imply that a software is “engineered” like a bridge. This is simply not true as when we build software we are not constrained by physical laws i.e. anything is possible. For me, Software Engineering looks like a set of rules that “average” programmers can follow to deliver software of “average” quality. I think that the best programmers instead use their instincts rather than Software Engineering rules…
On the other hand, it’s always a good idea to follow software development best-practices e.g. program to interfaces.
Ketwaroo D. Yaasir says
Honestly, with the sort of people around, there is no shortage of stupid entities to interact with. I think, a computer is not stupid. It is just an electrical device. you are not likely to call your fridge stupid. Even though from an average point of view, your fridge is much more useful. It feeds you (indirectly, by preserving your food). The computer doesn’t do much by itself. It does with numbers (to base 2) what you tell it to do and represent those numbers the way you (or some programmer) tells it to do. So it is a modelling tool. like a pencil and paper. So I think you need some amount of artistic skill as well to write useful code.
but of course, it’s not that simple in reality. Or whatever you consider to be reality.
I remember reading that definition a long time ago and not liking it at all either.
“Throughout the industry, software engineer has replaced the job of programmer as the job title of preference. Software process models, software engineering methods and software tools have been adopted successfully across a broad spectrum of industry applications.”
-Roger Pressman, Software Engineering, a practitioner’s approach
It was the quote above me that triggered my curiosity to know the differences. Yeps, I definitely agree on the SD best practices. In fact I read this guide: http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/archives/000103.html very often.
finally, I think that the industry requires software engineers rather than developer or programmers. for eg. at SIL, http://sil.intnet.mu/hr/career.htm, it is mentioned Software engineer as position. How far is it true?
In France, where I’ve studied, one can only call himself or herself an engineer when he/she has spent five years in an Ecole d’IngÃ©nieur.
This is what I did.
There, during the five years, I learned (and practiced) about (i) the technical aspect (ii) the human aspect and (iii) the financial aspect of building large software artifacts.
In Mauritius, things are a little bit different. Our students, even though they are holders of a Bachelor degree in Computer Science & Engineering, do not have the right to call them engineers. This is because the Association of Engineers of Mauritius does not consider Computer Science to be an engineering discipline.
So asking for Software Engineers is valid technically. But I don’t think this is really applied as this would mean that no CSE students would have the right to apply…
Personally, on my CV, I put Software Engineer as “title”. But this is only because I’ve studied in an Ecole d’IngÃ©nieur.
Ritesh Hassamal says
A nice blog you have here.
Was wondering after reading your last comment, what do Computer Science & Engineering students graduate with from UoM, a BSc or BEng.?
Keep the posts coming.
PS:I’m not sure if you remember me, we’ve met a few times at the Nagawa’s in QBornes.
Of course, I remember you :-) How’s life?
Our students follow a 3-year BSc (Hons) programme. Previously it was a 4-year BEng but, for some reason, this duration was reduced.
Our students, even though they are holders of a Bachelor degree in Computer Science & Engineering, do not have the right to call them engineers. This is because the Association of Engineers of Mauritius does not consider Computer Science to be an engineering discipline.
And i entirely agree, all who does CSE or IS have no rights to call themselves Engineers ..:p as i believe that are not ‘pure blooded’ race of engineering practice :p, and too much of people who have monetary power have modified the true engineering aspects of anything related to computer software…
..basically :p even ‘software engineers’ are just a lie. The way software engineering (or anything software) currently seems to look (atleast for me) is like “cooking”, everyone can cook, everyone can follow some cooking instructions in a magazine to cook something, everyone can follow a cooking course and claim to be a ‘chef’, BUT one cannot really qualify or predict how and who the next someone that will “invent” the next killer recipes out there, it just seems (to me) random or something that probably till we can learn to understand what makes a cook a cook that we can form real cooks instead of “pseudo cooks” with certificates.
the above is just my opinion … and as always :p i don’t give a damned if many disagree :p am free to have opinions :p.
ps. Even real “pure blood line” engineering practices nowadays seems to have been reduced to canned stuffs rather than philosophical. They are not taught to invent.. but to copy.
Previously it was a 4-year BEng but, for some reason, this duration was reduced.
The students are lab rats, feel free to do anything to them :p, am sure one day one of those students will turn into a serial killer and correct back everything! hahahahaha.
Thank god i am soon going to be reaching my enjoyment state after this exam :p yuuuuhuuu next year i’m dropping in univ only for the fun :p
Ketwaroo D. Yaasir says
heh, this conversation seems to have taken a rather serious turn. You’re supposed to be rockstar programmer. that means throwing humongous parties in the photocopier room, launching yourself into wild renditions of Bach’s 6th Cello suite on your air guitar while giving a lecture and machine gunning the overhead projectors in the phase 2 building (or is it phase 3? the big new one made in china. I haven been in there for so long that I forgot the topography of the place)
but you also need very long and messy hairstyle……
by the by, shouldn’t we be getting outraged/overjoyed by the whole MT/Orange deal? or is it that the internet connection will still be crap?
a couple of points really struck me…
3. Continuously Refactors Code and 6. Leverages Existing Code
In point 3, he talks bout legacy codes, and in point 6, the problem of re inventing the wheel…
kinda going in opposite directions i feel…
i’ve been working for the past year, and i’ve come across these black-box legacy codes…they are almost holy!! U kno wat they do, u use em, but no one wud ever dream of touching em!! The same fing used over an over again in all projects…sumtimes it almost feels like the project is being adapted to the codes, and not the other way round!! So i fully agree that someone has to hack the big old legacy codes at some time or the other!!
And then we come to point 6, where he talks bout reinventing the wheel! Now that too is quite solid in ma mind! Kinda spent hours trying to develop sum code, finally get it done, get that orgamsic feeling, have a smoke, then google it and i see its already been done! Doh!! shud’ve done it the other way round i guess
alwayz google, then code :P
Yet how do we draw the line between using existing code, and writing your own while not reinventing the wheel??
Point 8 about maintainable code alsot kinda struck me!
“Rockstars write code which follows naming conventions, code which is compact, simple and not overly clever.”
code should be simple and NOT OVER CLEVER!!
now this is interesting! u can write a 100 line code in 10 lines, but is it maintainable?? i fancy for sum1 doing maintainance work (i’ve done ma faire share of it :S ), trudging through 100 lines of code could prove to be easier that understand a 10 line piece of genius!!
Overall its a great article, but some of the points contradict each other…U have to be really very agile to draw that fine line linking all of them!
Personally, I don’t really feel points #3 (Continuously Refactors Code), #6 (Leverages Existing Code) and #8 (Writes Maintainable Code) are contradicting themselves.
#3 is important as code is written by accretion. #6 is important as we all want to get home early (i.e. its pointless implementing a linked list – just use something from java.util). #8 is a direct consequence of the fact that code sometimes outlives its creator.
i guess it means taht u are very agile mate :P