如何修炼成卓越的程序员

成为卓越者需要具备的素质
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A couple weeks ago, a presentation made the rounds online about Netflix culture. The presentation featured the many benefits of working for Netflix and how the company goes about hiring (and firing) employees. While there was a lot of information about Netflix’s treatment of employees, which clearly makes Netflix an attractive place to work, the missing part is a list of employee expectations. The beginning of the presentation touches upon the company values that point in the direction of expectations but doesn’t go far enough to lay those out.

近几周,一份反映 Netflix 公司企业文化的报告在网上广为流传。这份报告里列举了很多Netflix公司里令人称赞的做法,包括这个公司是如何的招聘和辞退员工的。里面有大量的信息是描述Netflix公司是怎样对待员工的,这使Netflix公司变成了一个很有吸引力的工作场所。报告里面提到过有一个关于员工所期望的内容的清单,但没有把清单列出来。报告的开始部分就谈及了企业价值问题,而且是按照员工的立场角度写的,可惜并没有把这个问题展开。

I don’t work at Netflix, of course (I work for Yahoo!), but I feel strongly that what makes a great employee and a great engineer is the same regardless of where you work. There are a few things that great engineers always do.

我并不在Netflix工作——你也知道 (我在 Yahoo!工作)——但我深切的感觉到,不管你在哪里工作,成为一个优秀的员工、优秀的软件开发工程师的过程是一样的。 下面所列举的都是卓越的程序员所具有的经验和品质。

Always do it the right way 只做正确的事

One of the challenges of software is to learn how to do it the right way. The right way is different depending upon what you’re working on and who you’re working for. Exactly what “the right way” consists of is less important than doing it that way all the time. Junior engineers tend to have the most trouble with this, but it does happen with senior-level people too. There’s an “emergency” project, or something that seems so different that it must have its own set of rules. That’s bogus. Good engineers know that the right way applies to all situations and circumstances. If there’s not enough time to do something the right way, then there’s really not enough time to do it. Don’t make compromises, the quality of your work is what ultimately defines you as an engineer. Make sure that all of the code you write is done the right way 100% of the time. Expect excellence from yourself.

对于软件这一行的人,我们有个很大的挑战,就是如何能够用正确方法的做事情。什么是正确的方法,这依赖于你在做什么和做给谁。而究竟所谓“正确的方法”里都包括了什么内容,这并不是重点,重点是你是否能坚持按照这种方式做事。初级程序员在这个问题是通常不能做到坚持,而资历较深的程序员却能始终坚持原则。 也许会有一个“非常紧急”的项目,或者这个项目很特殊,不能按常规过程开发。这只是个假象。好的程序员知道即使在任何情况和环境下都要坚持做正确的事情。如果说按正确的方式开发将导致不能按时完成任务,那么,他们就会知道,这个项目是不能按时完工的。不要妥协,工程质量是你作为一个优秀程序员的唯一终极证明。确保你所有的代码都是在正确的方法下100%正确的写出的。要按一个优秀的程序员的标准来要求自己。

Be willing to suffer 甘愿受苦

This may sound silly, but good engineers are willing to suffer for their work. Show me a great engineer and I’ll show you someone that has, at various points in his or her career, spent days trying to figure out a problem. Great engineers relish the challenge of a problem that keeps them up day and night, and knowing that it must be solved.

听起来很傻,但却是真的,优秀的程序员都乐于承担工作上给他们带来的痛苦。你说出一个卓越的程序员,我都能告诉你,在他或她的职业生涯里,各个阶段,都曾有花好几天时间去解决一个问题的经历。优秀的程序员品味着困难给他们带来的挑战,这让他们日以继夜,他们明白,问题必须要解决掉。

Not-so-great engineers call for help at the first sign of trouble. They routinely ask for help whenever something goes wrong rather than trying to fix it themselves. Their favorite line is, “can you look at this?” Great engineers first and foremost want to solve the problem on their own. Problem solving is a skill, a skill that great engineers take seriously.

不太优秀的程序员就不一样了,他们在刚刚碰到有麻烦的迹象时就先想到要寻求帮助。在问题面前,他们习惯于去寻求帮助,而不是自己去努力解决这个问题。他们最喜欢的一句话是:“帮我看看这个问题”。卓越的程序员的第一反应是我要自己解决这个问题。解决问题是种技能,是优秀的程序员非常看重的一种技能。

Good engineers become great engineers by suffering. Suffering means not asking for help unless you absolutely cannot handle the task. Asking for help is a sign of defeat, so ring that bell infrequently lest you draw unwanted attention to yourself. Be willing to suffer. Spend time toiling over the problem. That’s how you learn.

好的程序员是通过痛苦的磨练才成为卓越的程序员的。痛苦的磨练是说当你对这个问题实在无能为力时才去请求外援。求助就意味着认输,所以尽量减少这种处境的发生。 甘愿受苦。和问题做不懈的斗争。这就是你要学会的。

Note: I am not saying that you should never ask for help. I am saying that you should try to accomplish the task on your own first, and if you get stuck, then ask for help. Don’t simply ask for help every time without first trying to solve the problem yourself. Chances are, you’ll find that you could have figured it out on your own once you know the answer.

注意: 我并不是说你不能寻求他人的帮助。我说的是,你首先要尝试自己去完成任务,如果你不能完成,再寻求帮助。不要在自己没有努力过前就轻易的求助。你经常会发现,当你知道了解决方法后,你才认识到,你用自己的力量本也能解决这个问题的。

Never stop learning 学无止境

Any engineer who claims that they don’t need to learn anything new is not someone with whom I’d like to work. In some careers, you can get away without learning anything new for years; technology changes too quickly to not pay attention. Your employer is paying you for your expertise and if that expertise goes stale, you become expendable. In order to be a great engineer you must first admit that you don’t know everything, and then you must seek out more knowledge in every way you can.

如果有人敢声称他不需要再学任何新的知识,我是绝对不愿意和他共事的。在有些行业,你也许很多年不学新的东西也能干的很好,但软件技术革新的如此之快,你不能不时刻关注。你的老板是由于你有某些技能才花钱雇你的,如果你的技能已经落伍、过期了,那你也就没有价值了。想成为一名卓越的程序员,你首先要承认你不是无所不知,你必须每天都要努力的寻找、学习新的知识。

Identify someone in your current company or organization from which you can learn and attach yourself to him or her. Ask for advice on complex problems to see how they think. Show them solutions you’ve come up with and ask for a critique. If you can’t identify anyone in your organization that can serve as a mentor, then either you’re not looking hard enough or you’re at the wrong company. If you can’t grow in your current job then it’s time to look for another.

在你现在的公司里或组织里寻找能让你学习、让你钦佩的人。在复杂的问题上征求他们的意见,看看他们是怎么思考的。向他们介绍你的解决思路,请他们给予批评指点。如果在你的周围你不能找出一个能作为你的导师的人,这要么是你还没有认真的寻找,要么是你留在了一个不该留的公司里。如果你在现在的工作上不能学习进步,那是到了你该换个工作的时候了。

Read blogs. Attend conferences. Go to developer meetups. Great engineers never stop learning.

要阅读网上的博客。关注一些研讨会。与其他程序员交流。卓越的程序员从不停止学习。

Share your knowledge 分享知识

There are some who believe that their sole value is their knowledge, and by sharing that knowledge they therefore make themselves less valuable. Nothing could be farther from the truth. What makes you valuable is not your knowledge, it’s how you make use of your knowledge to create value for your employer. How better to create value from your knowledge than to share it with others?

有一些程序员认为,他们的唯一价值所在就是他们所拥有的知识,于是,分享出他们的知识就会让他们的价值降低。这是大错特错了。让你有价值的不是你的知识,而是如何运用你的知识给公司创造价值。难道还会有比分享知识给他人更能给公司创造价值的方法吗?

I’ve interviewed at companies where hording knowledge seemed deeply-rooted at the organizational level. In that type of environment, a fierce competition develops between co-workers, and this opens the door to politics and backstabbing. I don’t want to work in an organization like that. You can’t learn if everyone is keeping information to themselves.

我曾经面试过一家公司,知识不共享、相互保密、相互提防的理念在这家公司里根深蒂固。在这样的环境里,员工之间形成了一种恶性竞争的关系,这直接导致了勾心斗角和诬陷中伤的产生。我可不想在这样的公司里工作。如果每个人都对自己知道的事情讳莫如深,那你什么都学不到。

Great engineers want others to know what they know. They aren’t afraid of losing their position because someone else can do the same thing. Great engineers want to see their peers succeed and grow. Organizations rally around people who share information, and as they say in sports, people who make other people on the team better.

卓越的程序员希望他人也能知道自己所掌握的知识。他们并不担心会因此而失去优势,因为他们相信大家都会这样做。卓越的程序员乐意看到他们的同伴成长、成功。一个公司,它应该被一群喜欢知识共享的人组成,就像人们在运动场上,让团队的每个对员都强大起来,整个团队才会强大。

Lend a helping hand 伸出援助之手

Great engineers don’t consider any task to be “beneath” them. Always willing to lend a hand, you can see great engineers helping out junior engineers in between doing their own work. If something has to get done, and no one else is able to do it in time, great engineers volunteer to take on the work. They don’t scoff when asked to help on a project, whether it be small or menial or low-profile. Great engineers are team-focused and therefore are willing to do whatever it takes to help the team. Whether that be writing 1,000 lines of code or editing an image, great engineers jump at the chance to help out.

卓越的程序员从来不会说“这不关我的事”。他们总是愿意伸出援助之手。他们经常在做自己的工作之余,去帮助那些编程新手。如果有件任务必须按时完成,而又没有其他人能胜任,卓越的程序员会主动承担起这项任务。他们从来不嘲笑来请求帮助的人,即使问题是那么的小、那么无意义、无价值。 卓越的程序员重视他们的团队,愿意为团队做任何的事情。不管是要去写1,000行的代码,还是去编辑一个图片,卓越的程序员都会立即站出来帮助完成。

Take your time 十年磨一剑

Great engineers aren’t born, they are made. They’re made by following the advice in this post and by hard work. If you’re just starting out, there’s still plenty of time to become a great engineer. Patience is key. You don’t become a great engineer over night. For some it may take a couple years, for others it may take ten. There’s no one keeping score. Strong organizations recognize when someone has the potential to be a great engineer and will guide you along. You prove yourself through your work and how you make your team better. Focus and self-discipline go a long way towards becoming a great software engineer.

卓越的程序员不是天生的,是后天炼成的。他们是本文上面提到的那些因素造就的,加上还要通过努力的工作。如果你是刚刚意识到这些,那还不晚,你仍然有充分的时间来成为一个卓越的程序员。耐心是关键。卓越的程序员不是在旦夕之间就可以成就的。有些人可能要花上数年,有些人则需要十几年。没有人为你写血泪史。好的公司当发现你有成为卓越程序员的潜质时,会帮助你,为你提供舞台。而你会通过你的努力工作、让你的团队进步来证明自己。要坚定,要自律,通往卓越程序员的道路会很长。

Added disclaimer paragraph to “Be willing to suffer.” Seems like people are greatly misunderstanding my point.

更新 (5 Sep 2009): 针对“甘愿受苦”段内容增加一个声明。好像很多人都误解了我的观点。

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