Chris Baus

You can't impress developers. So don't try.

There was a recent post on Hacker News regarding a Python interpreter in JavaScript. As soon as it hit the home page, the comments took on a condescending tone. I found this disappointing. I wish the development community was more supportive of people trying and promoting new, if ambitious, ideas.

A recurring theme I’ve witnessed, which is something I tell new programmers, is developers can’t impress other developers. So don’t try. Instead focus on impressing your users (if your users are developers, I wish you luck).

Talented, but inexperienced, developers tend to use every trick in their bag to show off their knowledge and capability. I’ve seen the harm that can be done when someone heads off into the wilds of a code base with such a mindset. It can be toxic, and it is often in the spirit of impressing other developers. Experienced developers make the difficult seem easy. New developers often make the routine look hard.

No matter how successful, reliable, or loved a piece of software is, inevitably other developers will not value the time, effort, and craftsmanship that went into building it. The Google search engine brings in $billions each year, and is one of the most important software projects in history, but I guarantee there are developers at Google right now complaining about how crappy the core code base is. There is a time and place for review, but code on the ground deserves respect.

There is something to the complaints about the approachability of the developer community. We eat our own kind. Since the building blocks of what we do are so simple and results quickly forth coming, I think we over project our capabilities and undervalue other’s. So, and I say this as a reminder to myself, try not to do that. Respect the work of your peers, and those who came before you.