How to Be a Great Developer

Question: What motivates you as a programmer?
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\r\nJustin Frankel: You know, most of it is when I want to do \r\nsomething on my computer and there’s not, either there’s not a way or \r\nthere’s not a good way or there’s not a free way to do it.  So, it comes\r\n out of wanting to use the thing that I'm making, ultimately. And then \r\nonce it becomes something of its own, I think having other people use it\r\n is actually very rewarding in that you get satisfaction from other \r\npeople getting the same benefits that you are from the software that you\r\n make.
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\r\nQuestion:
Who do you look up to?
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\r\nJustin Frankel: There have been people where I’ve looked at the \r\nwork they’ve done and have a lot of respect for them and, like John \r\nCarmack would be an example who was one of the founders of Id Software, \r\nwho made like "Doom" and "Quake" and "Wolfenstein 3D," and it was always\r\n impressive to look and see the things that they would produce.  And \r\nthey would be successful in doing it and apparently enjoy themselves.  \r\nSo, that would be one top-of-my-head example. 
\r\n
\r\nAlso, in like the ‘90’s, and probably maybe before that as well, there \r\nwas a big demo scene were people would make demos where it would be \r\ntrying to demonstrate what would be possible with the limited computers \r\nof the time and most of these people were European, I think, but they \r\nwould have these bit parties where they would show off their demos and a\r\n lot of those guys, I don’t remember specific names, but it was always \r\nimpressive the things that they could accomplish.
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\r\nQuestion:
What does it take to be one of the best developers?
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\r\nJustin Frankel: I wouldn’t say that there are “best” programmers,\r\n but I think that there are programmers who end up being probably ten \r\ntimes more productive than the average programmer.  And I don’t know \r\nwhat it would really take, it comes down to... it comes down to just the\r\n ability to cut through what's really important and then focus on that. \r\nAnd sort of having the sense to know that when you get stuff right, \r\neverything else can fall into place.  And there’s probably some \r\nnecessary element of being able to keep enough things in your head at \r\nthe same time, but I think really a lot of it is just sort of a \r\nsignal-and-noise if you find the right thing to focus on, it makes \r\neverything all right.
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\r\nQuestion:
Are developers really anti-social?
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\r\nJustin Frankel: I think a lot of it comes down to; it’s very easy\r\n to spend a great deal of time focusing in on something and then forget \r\nto call you friends and that sort of thing.  I probably would do that \r\nmore if I wasn’t married, so...  But I think there are programmers that \r\nway, but I think there are plenty of programmers who are just regular \r\npeople and do regular things and go out and, you know, do all the things\r\n that are sort of normalish.

Recorded on June 21, 2010
Interviewed by Jessica Liebman

The most productive programmers have an ability to cut through to what’s really important, focus on that, and then know when they've gotten stuff right.

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