Becoming a 10X Developer

August 6 2021

10x developers are 10 times as productive, and 10 times more likely to write software that stands the test of time. Experience building software matters, but passion is much more important. If you didn't have a passion for building maintainable, elegant software, you probably wouldn't be reading this, so let’s dive into the qualities of developers that build maintainable, efficient software.

Changing Your Thinking Changes Your Code

Every complex business problem has an elegant, technical solution. Building maintainable, efficient applications is purely a reflection of your state of mind as you build it. Programming is one of the few professions that is not very standardized or cookie-cutter in nature. Almost every new codebase is unique. What differentiates great developers from mediocre ones is a commitment to quality, maintainable and elegant code, which comes from your mindset as you build it. Your goal is to constantly think outside the box and come up with simple elegant structures.

Do Not Re-Invent the Wheel

Almost 80% of common tasks we perform on the web and mobile apps have well-tested libraries that can make your life simple. Typically an application may have one or two areas that hold “the business”, i.e mostly everything wrapped about your core business problem like authentication, authorization, image resizing, and your typical CRUD work has well-tested libraries that are used by thousands of other programmers worldwide.

Regardless of your framework or technology choice, don’t reinvent the wheel. If you’re writing what seems to be complex code for something that’s already widely used on the Internet, think twice and start googling for existing libraries that do the same thing.

Learn Design Basics

Whether in solving business problems on internal systems, or building products with users, learning design basics is one of the most important steps. Developers could spend 6 months writing and refactoring a piece of code, but without an interface, the world won't be able to see all of the efforts that has been put in. The majority of great, consumer-grade software out there has an element of great design. Writing great code, with a not-so-great visual or user experience means less people will use your web or mobile application. Learn design basics like layout, color theory, and typography. Good design is a window into a great codebase.

Follow Convention, Create Convention

There are many advantages to following a convention or even creating one if there is no convention in the company. Code convention keeps a codebase readable. Moreover, a good convention helps keep large web and mobile apps maintainable as well as helping developers get up and running when joining a team.

Understand The Business Problem You're Solving

Understanding the business problem being solved is a universal process. Developers are also required to have a good understanding of the problem even before getting started. We’re huge advocates of empowering programmers in an organization and making sure they understand the actual business case before building the software. If you understand the business case you can more easily plan for the long-term project.

Plan For Best & Worst Case Scenarios

Planning for future worst-case scenarios might prevent a disaster. Likewise, thinking of a best-case scenario would grant the motivation needed to build the best software or write an elegant code. Formulating a strategy before starting is the smartest thing to do.

Write For Clarity & Maintainability

You are solving a complex business problem, not writing complex code. Elegant code is simple and clear. Being a great developer is not about creating the most complex code, it is about simplicity, readability, and long-term maintainability.

Architect Before You Start Coding

Building software is very similar to other engineering disciplines, or even other fields like architecture or writing. Both design, calculate, make alterations and refactor.  Before starting a new project, great developers understand the business case and spend a large chunk of time architecting. Great writers draft, great developers sketch.

Stop, Pause, And Review Your Strategy

When writing code, great developers take a moment to review their strategy as they go - this should happen periodically throughout a feature or project. Not only does this boost the quality, but also saves time in addressing any potential bugs down the road.

Test Your Work

Regardless of whether or not your company has a QA team, you should test before you push code out.

“Becoming a 10x developer is hard work, it’s time-consuming and means you have to make a conscious effort to not only write the code - but to restructure your mental model of how software is built.”

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