Programmer personality types: 13 profiles in code

By Peter Wayner, InfoWorld |  Software

The cleverest Underdocumenters will even write their own code to save them the trouble of writing English. I know someone who hooked up a version of Eliza to Emacs so that he could add Eliza-grade comments to his code with the push of a button. No one noticed, he said, because even his manager had written scripts to count the words in the comments of the developers he managed. Eliza always had him near the top of the documentation pecking order in his department.

Car: Vespa
Relationship status: Living with the same person for 15 years without getting married because they don't want to fill out the forms
Household chore: Rewiring the house without labeling the breakers
Role model: Guy who hid the Ark of the Covenant before "Raiders of the Lost Ark"
Pet: "Around here somewhere."
Favorite programming construct: Lambda
Drink: Anything with an "XXX" on the bottle

Programming personality type No. 2: The CYA Specialist

For some programmers, documentation is a talisman for warding off middle-management evil. They write paragraphs and paragraphs about mundane routines like queryDatabase. Did you know that the routine will work for Oracle and Postgres 8.5 but not MySQL or Postgres 9.0+? It doesn't matter if you're running only one database, the CYA Specialist has you covered.

If you're lucky, your CYA Specialist will be a frustrated novelist who is happy to inject a pun or two into a boring pile of code. But the worst kind is the one who lords their documentation over others during code reviews. If a bug appears, the CYA Specialist says it was a limitation that was "well-documented in the 17th paragraph of the method's comment."

Some CYA Specialists perform job security by obscurity, handing over a binder full of printed-out code, as if you're going to leaf through 700 pages of monospaced, unsearchable type. They know that if you measure the work product in pounds, there can't be any debate over what they've done.

Car: Stack of Chilton manuals
Relationship status: Married to a 48-page prenuptial agreement
Household chore: Relabeling the spice rack
Role model: Wikipedia editor of the year
Pet: "Come over to see the photo montage of Scrappy that used to be just a wall."
Favorite programming construct: The comment block
Drink: Triple-filtered water

Programming personality type No. 3: The Future CIO

They can write code if they have to, but a PowerPoint slide about UML documents is their genre of choice. And you'll know you're in a meeting with one because your smartphone will beep with a LinkedIn invitation from them within five minutes of sitting down.


Originally published on InfoWorld |  Click here to read the original story.
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