How to Become a Better Programmer

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2008-06-02 Print this article Print

He said there are various techniques to becoming a better programmer. For one, "you have to recharge tangentially," he said. "You have to do something else instead of sitting in front of a computer all day." Hansson cited folks at his company, 37signals, who are into whittling, playing musical instruments and learning to fly.

Taking a swipe at Google, Hansson said, "Some companies say we're going to give our employees 20 percent off ... to do more programming."

Meanwhile, he told the audience to sleep more, to "stop trying to be superman by working fantastic hours," and to read more paper and not so many RSS feeds.

Moreover, the programmer that is 10 times better does not necessarily write 10 times more code that the next person, Hansson said, calling on the audience to "program less. We write way too much programming instead of writing the right things."

Other advice Hansson gave was to have developers start from scratch more often and to start sharing.

"The purpose of playing this game well is to be able to get the best position in the next game," Hansson said paraphrasing a famous quote: "So the amount you can invest right now in setting yourself up for the next game is worth it," he said.

Hansson said that 37signals has instituted a four-day work week and he has seen no drop in productivity. "How does 20 percent less time matter ... if you have programmers who are 10 times better than average and you have tools that are so much better?" he asked.


Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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