What makes a professional programmer?

I recently got an email question put to me by someone wanting to know what makes a professional programmer:

Since I have started my career, I have been working for managers who really don’t know how to program. I have been improving myself through tutorials and books. However, I still don’t know whether i’m a good programmer or just better than the guys i’m working with.

Can you tell me what makes a good programmer? Better yet, please tell me what level should a PHP programmer be at after three years of development?

The short answer:

A good programmer is able to put out clean code that works and is easy to update. Simplicity is a sign of professionalism in any profession or discipline.

In the same email, he continues to ask:

Can you give me a list of books or subjects I should know by now (three years of development). Any advice you give would be much appreciated.

Beyond PHP basics (and the core functionality), I would suggest that PHP programmers should work to learn the following:

  1. Object Oriented PHP
  2. Learn about design patterns. Important ones include: MVC, decorators and factories.
  3. Learn an MVC framework like the Zend Framework or PHPCake etc …
  4. Get deeper into PHP; understand how it works under the hood. This will help you later on when trying to decided how to most effectively build applications.

Notes:

Like any other language, PHP sometimes gives you a few ways to do the same thing. It makes sense to learn the advantages and disadvantages of each for the sake of optimized code. For example, PHP provides a few different ways to interface with MySQL … you have the classic libs but you also have new object oriented methods.

When it comes to learning design patterns, it might be easier to learn a PHP framework at the same time. Why? Many of these frameworks often times provide great examples of popular design patterns.

Final comment:

Though the above is ideal, I’ve have seen many PHP programmers who don’t have half the skills I mention above, but were still effective programmers who got the job done.

Stefan Mischook

www.killerphp.com


This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 11th, 2009 at 9:15 am and is filed under Advanced PHP, Object Oriented PHP. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

2 Responses to “What makes a professional programmer?”

  1. AL says:

    Thanks for the article. This really helps.

  2. Ba P1 says:

    I was woundering should you got more resources about this subject

Created By Stefan Mischook  |  Top of page  go to top of page