cloudThing- not a standard Americano coffee...

Nick Churchill-EvansJanuary 25th 2019

After gaining inspiration from a food festival in Ulverstone, cloudThing now liken its software developers to coffee. Our developers have many skills and dimensions which makes them more than a standard cup of Americano coffee... So if you're a coffee connoisseur or want to find out what makes a good developer, read on...

And so it was, over the weekend just gone, that I found myself in the Lake District with somewhere in the region of six million other human beings, matched in population only by sheep. I quite like sheep but I also very much like food; sometimes sheep and food converge for me and there is one lamb fewer in the Lake District... However, on this occasion it came to my attention that there was a food festival in Ulverstone. Having never before visited Ulversone, I decided to take a chance and drag my family round said food festival. How glad I am that I did. Not only did I manage to spend £10 on marshmallows (I know what you’re thinking but honestly, they were pretty epic as marshmallows go) but I also wandered into the food demo area and discovered some things about coffee that were somewhat surprising. 

So where is this going? Well, it occurred to me as it sunk in over the rest of the weekend, that his central point and the work of his company, is that there is coffee and then there is good coffee, and that this is a useful metaphor for our work as software developers. In terms of coffee, the good coffee has approximate price parity with poor coffee. The difference is that one is approached with skill, understanding, respect and love; the other is missing one or more of these facets. The same is true of software and, as a business we can testify to this as we seem to be brought a constant stream of poorly developed code to remedy for new clients. The source tends to be from product development jobs that have been outsourced to digital agencies but that have left the customer with a sense that although things ‘look okay’ on the surface all is not as it seems, nor indeed without issue. 

We find that whether it is Java, .NET, PHP, IOS, Android, Angular or Backbone; whether the architecture is poor and the business logic is all mixed up with the presentation; or whether it’s simply badly written and peppered with hard coded usernames and passwords; the results are broadly the same. It looks okay but when you try to exercise it in anger it just doesn’t perform securely, robustly or reliably. We’ve concluded from this that whilst there are lots of people writing code, there are very few people designing and writing good code. Much like making a good coffee, there really is not that much learning needed to make the transformation from writing shoddy applications to writing decent ones. It seems to me like a small step to move from the 40% to 80% zone in the application quality measures. Sure, the last 20% is where the real magic is for our geeks and clients alike, where flexibility is waiting respond to a new business opportunity, scaling is linear and running costs are low, but the fundamentals of at least reliable and manageable that one can have at the 80% mark would be a step change for many.

Back in Ulverson I tasted Gareth’s coffee and it was great. It had so many more dimensions than a standard Americano and has brought me a whole new opportunity to get more pleasure for every pound I spend on coffee. So much so that I subscribed and beans shall shortly be delivered on a monthly basis for me to grind, with a decent grinder and no more than 20 minutes before I’m brewing. The filter machine I received as a wedding gift 16 years ago will do the rest. If you’re interested you can read more here and subscribe if you’re interested in a whole new coffee experience:

As for software, I think it’s worth giving your development jobs to software purists who will invest skill, understanding, respect and love in your product. You won’t pay any more and it will save you a bundle in the long run. At cloudThing, I believe that we are much like Gareth's coffee, we have more dimensions than meets the eye. So, if you’re not sure how to choose between a good developer and a not-so-good one, give me a shout and I’ll share some thoughts on what to look for. It's just like choosing the right coffee beans...

© Nick Churchill-EvansJanuary 25th 2019



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