Your Job

This quote is a great:  “I don’t really care if your code runs locally. If your code just runs locally, then my only option is to sell your computer so that our users can use our software, and that really doesn’t scale.” That quote is from an open letter to engineers and talks about what the job of a software engineer really is. It’s not just to write code, but to make sure our code and the entire system works for users.

That’s important. It doesn’t matter how well you code if the application only works on your machine. We traditionally haven’t been great at getting code from one system to another and ensuring it works, at least not in a smooth fashion. We haven’t really followed an “engineering” process when we write, and deploy, software.

The DevOps movement is changing this a big, bringing automation, scripting, and repeatability to both software development and operational deployment. All of these things should help us adhere to a more repeatable engineering practice. The commoditization of powerful hardware has also helped as many client environments might be nearly as powerful as development systems these days. It also means that our test systems can be good substitutes for production systems, at least if we can quickly build up and tear down large virtual environments.

However we still need to be sure that we always remember that our code needs to work on other systems. Whether it has to scale down to meet the needs mobile devices or slightly older browsers and desktops, or our code needs scale up to handle thousands of times more transactions on a production database server than it processes on our laptops. We have to always consider the needs of the end user environment as we develop software. We need to test it in those situations, and broaden our skills to ensure that our applications satisfy the needs of the clients. And, of course, we should be able to quickly and easily deploy our changes to any other environment.

Steve Jones


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