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Your hat reveals your developer personality

In technology we encounter many types of developer personalities. Their behaviour and attitudes can be symbolized by the kind of "hat" they wear. Which hat is yours?

This was inspired by a coworker making production changes late one Friday afternoon. Someone commented that making changes right before the weekend is Wild West crazy, and wearing a cowboy hat would be appropriate.

That got me thinking - over time, behavioural patterns emerge which reflect the attitudes and habits of developers. The following are the main personalities as I see them. 

The Engineer

Typical quote: "Everybody ready? Stick to the plan, guys.”

Hard hat worn by The engineer

  • Has full overview of current status and consequences of potential changes
  • Makes backups of everything before starting
  • Makes no production changes unless absolutely necessary
  • Analysis, changes and result are all documented
  • Uses test scripts during development
  • Uses automatic build and deployment scripts

Watching the Engineer in action is like: "Morning Mood" by Edvard Grieg 

The Soldier

Typical quote: "Cover me, I'm going in!"

Army helmet worn by The Soldier

  • Has a strategy for deployment, execution and fallback
  • Often uses automated test, build and/or deployment scripts
  • Seldom enters a live situation without cover from squad members
  • Can improvise when needed, but makes rational decisions which can be documented and defended afterwards
  • Has a documented plan, and documents the results

Watching the Soldier in action is like: "Ride of the Valkyries" by Richard Wagner 

The Silent Assassin

Typical quote: "...[faint swoosh]..."

Mask worn by The Silent Assassin

  • Confident of own ability, always works alone
  • Likes to apply changes manually rather than use build/deployment scripts
  • Makes improvised changes without notification
  • Leaves no documentation or clues to what changes were made
  • Seldom makes backups
  • Risky tactics, but gets the job done somehow
  • Damaging consequences are not discovered until it's too late

 Watching the Silent Assassin in action is like: "Flight of the Bumble Bee" by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov

The Cowboy

Typical quote: "YIIIIEHAAAA!"

Wild West hat worn by The Cowboy

  • Shoots from the hip, deploys untested code and config changes
  • Lone gunman, often works alone ("this server ain't big enough for the two of us")
  • Often skips automated scripts in favor of manual changes to save time
  • Makes production changes at random times, without notifying customers and colleagues
  • Chance of successful outcome is like a duel - 50/50 
  • If the site/server survives, it is often full of "bullet holes"

Watching the Cowboy in action is like: "The Good, the Bad & the Ugly" by Ennio Morricone

The Berserker

Typical quote: "AAAARGH! Take THIS! And THAT!"

Horned helmet worn by The Berserker

  • Works without a plan, just attacking randomly until it somehow works, or breaks completely
  • Applying random untested changes without realizing the consequences
  • Improvises and applies changes manually rather than using automated build/deployment scripts
  • Provides no documentation of changes
  • Leaves the site/server in a ravaged state afterwards

Watching the Berserker in action is like: "Carmina Burana: O Fortuna" by Carl Orff

The Clown

Typical quote: "Oops, I did it again."

Jester hat worn by The Clown

  • Works alone, often at times when no-one else is available to help (nights, weekends)
  • Makes changes without notifying customers or colleagues
  • Takes no backups, documents nothing
  • Uses no automated scripts for testing, build or deployment
  • Manually deploys untested code and config changes
  • Limited troubleshooting ability

Watching the Clown in action is like: "Requiem: Dies Irae" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Developer hats

We actually have these hanging on our office wall as a reminder of our responsibility.

Which hat is yours?

We've all met variants of these developers. We've probably all been a little of each type ourselves at some point. These are of course tongue-in-cheek sterotypes, but there's an element of truth in all of them. 

I'd like to think most of us aspire to be a mix of the Engineer and the Soldier, circumstances allowing. 

Which hats have you encountered? Are there any hats missing?
Which type of hat belongs to you?