Software development spires and foundations

CCS Insight has predicted that by 2023, psychometric testing of software developers will become commonplace.

The analyst firm believes that ethical psychometric testing will appear more regularly as part of the interview process, particularly in areas where software developers are being hired for jobs involving the analysis of personal data and, of course, AI, where biases need to be identified.

Why wait until 2023? Such tests may have more near term benefits. There is a question on the Myers & Briggs psychometric test concerning someone’s affinity to the words “spire” and “foundation”. Would one use the attribute “spire” or “foundation” to describe a software architect? What about an application developer or a software engineer in customer experience?

According to Ross Mason, founder of API management company, Mulesoft, software developers tend to deliver code for an IT project that has no uses outside of the domain it was designed for. He says: “We have to start helping developers think about the value they provide in the software they build.”

Lego architects

Consider the Lego analogy for how software is built: programmers use the bricks as building blocks to make things that other people can then see and experience. No one really wants to be the person who actually makes the Lego bricks.

Look at the Casa Batlló in Barcelona’s Gothic quarter and the genius of Antoni Gaudi. It is a finished product that visitors from around the world can experience.

In software development, should the goal be the finished product? Mason does not think so. Developing software that meets a specific business need may be seen as aligning IT with the business, but some argue that this goal-based approach lacks depth.

The idea of a “cloud first” strategy is built on a foundation of code reuse through software libraries and microservices accessed in a controlled manner via published APIs. While not every business will become a software company, there are plenty of cases where a factory for producing reusable software components makes sense.

Back to the foundation/spire question: the La Sagrada Familia is still under construction. Yet Gaudi’s vision for the cathedral is being built piece by piece, over 90 years since his death. In software, the ability to reuse Lego building blocks of code quickly and easily will be a digital differentiator. And the developers of these Lego pieces are both the foundations and the spires.

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