Whether you re on your first job or you re an experienced programmer who has jumped to a new job, your mission should be to learn who the best programmer in your company is and then model your work on his (or hers).
Programming mistakes can have serious consequences for your company. The experienced programmer to whom I recently acted as mentor was anxiously alert to his power to bring on disaster just by doing his everyday job. Having left programming to work in factory distribution years before, he was just returning to programming, after taking a refresher course. He was (rightly) intimidated by the fact that his programming changes would affect hundreds of online users who depended on the applications. Twenty years ago, his exposure to programming errors was limited ”say, to a single user reviewing a printed report.
What do I do? my mentee asked me. Just how do I do this? I was a good programmer before, but I m lost in picking up a complex and very large application. What s in these huge, sophisticated programs? How can I minimize my risk?
He was not only asking the right questions, he was sensibly afraid of making mistakes that would adversely impact hundreds of online users, stopping them from doing productive work. You should be asking the same questions.
In this chapter, I ll share some of the important advice I gave him.