The Artisan Programmer

Friday, 29th July 2016

I decided never to go back to another job of the kind. I was interested only in building software; in writing code but there were and still are only two kinds of jobs available in the software industry in my country at my level of experience of 19+ years.

  1. I'll be called an architect of some sort, will make Power Point presentations and eat biscuits but will never get to write code, at least not the amount of code I am used to and enjoy writing every day. At any rate, I would never get to build stuff from scratch.

    I believe the title "Architect" is based on a fundamental folly that one can separate the thinking out of programming and delegate the two to separate roles.

  2. The other kinds of jobs are where I would have to choose to be hired as a software developer with a significantly lower pay to be able to continue writing code. That's another one of the sad realities that prevails and dominates a majority of places. Programming salaries are lower than manager salaries. Programming is thought of to be an easy thing to do.

    But with that kind of a job would come the bane of abandoning all hopes of maintaining a personal life because there are only a few good programmers around. And as one, you end up with an inordinate amount of work that should have been shared equally amidst your team but cannot for the large disparities of skill level within your team. And I am being extremely polite in my description. If you're a good programmer in a team that's taking it too easy because they can do no better, you know the hazards of your situation.

So, in early 2011, after I quit regular employment as a software architect, I decided never to go back to applying for another job.

I muddled my way through many careers until I settled on freelancing as a software developer. The freelancer market is still nascent. While we enjoy the freedom of choosing our hours and focussing only on building great software, we spend a good deal of time every year in the sales cycle trying to get the next customer, the next gig.

In my country, the market is almost non-existent. Especially for an aging freelancer with lots of expertise, there aren't very many opportunities that pay commensurately. There are more bad days than the good ones.

Slowly but steadily, though, this market is widening. I believe that within the next ten years, it will dominate the corporate job numbers by a staggering majority.

Organizations are slowly but surely realizing the benefits of hiring the remote freelance software developer for the many benefits, the outstanding one being that we only spend our time building software. We don't attend skip levels, or townhalls or birthday bashes during work. We have to study every day so we are always in good shape. That way, companies get the best of the best. We cost more than your average developer but in the end work out to be way, way, way cheaper.

It takes about ten years of continuous programming practice before you even know what it is you're doing. So, the majorities of good developers are those who continue to program full-time after the age of forty. The ordinary corporate job doesn't allow for that. So it is not by accident that they are starved of good programmers because the ones that were good have either quit to become freelancers or succumbed to easing into the managerial job.

Today, there are a handful of services that help companies desperately looking for good developers meet the artisan developer. Not all of them are great even though their websites will claim so. But TopTal comes as a breath of fresh air for the artisan programmer who has, in rebellion of the ludicrity of the present state-of-affairs of our industry, quit his day job to only focus on building software from the quiet of his home. After all, if you've got the skills and the brains, all you need is a laptop with an internet connection. Businesses with fingers burnt from large outsourcing contracts are waking up to this realization. It is no co-incidence then that these are also the places where other good developers work.

If you are freelancer, you should consider joining the TopTal Web Development Network. Here is why it works for me.

  1. I am a great developer. That means I write code everyday, study and practice everyday outside of what my work requires, write articles and documentation, and have excellent communication skills. I speak regularly at conferences and .NET user groups. I am one of the very best developers or architects one is likely to find in my area of expertise.

    I believe TopTal will recognize my abilities.

  2. Most jobs in my country and at my level of experience of 19 years do not provide an opportunity to continue writing code. I'd like to continue writing code. TopTal offers me the opportunity to do so.

  3. I get to work from the quiet of my home at my own time while also have the chance to build something useful that a business values. I love building stuff.

  4. I get to work with some of the best brains that there are.

  5. Because TopTal is a group of engineers and designers, they will be empathetic to a developer's needs. This is something you are less likely to find in networks operated by businessmen who are non-programmers.

Freelancing is the future. Programmers who can alone build stuff and rejoice in doing so will be the only ones sought after.

In the next 30 years, if not earlier, I believe that the brick and mortar office will be a thing of the past except for jobs where a customer needs to be faced. For e.g. Mc Donalds, banks, chefs, waiters, gas stations, etc.

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