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Quality vs Quantity: How Fast Should a Developer Work?

How fast should a developer work? Should you sacrifice the quality of the code just to work faster? And, as a new developer, can I even provide quality work? Today, that’s the issue that’s been stuck in my head. Click here if you want to read my rambles on this dilemma.

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back when I was interviewing for my current job, I said I couldn’t promise speed in my coding, but I promised to do my best and to learn fast. Lately, I have been feeling a lot of pressure to perform faster.

The project I’ve been assigned to is simple: I need to build templates for future web tools. They should be good enough to modify and easy to understand. Most of them are based on already existing tools. It’s an easy job, right?

Except for the fact that the tools I need to modify could be improved upon. They’re good tools, but I feel that I could try to make them more concise and easier to modify. I’m a newbie and I don’t know all the details on how to make my code as efficient as possible, but I want to leave something that is neat and easy to understand. The kind of code you hardly need to use the inspector mode to change, because it’s all in the code. But as I take my time to perfect the code and leave comments, the clock keeps on ticking. I should be done with most of my assignments already, but I’m lagging behind.

Of course, I could always just grab the old tools and modify them fast enough to make them *look* right, even if the code is a mess (because let’s face it, I don’t have  the skills to work both fast AND not use a bunch of dirty hacks in the process). I doubt my superiors would care, and my colleagues would definitively understand. I want to perform well, I want this first job as a developer to go well. I don’t want to disappoint anyone. If I just gave up my need to make the code better, I could do this job a lot faster and nobody would fault me for it — except for one person. I would be disappointed in myself.

Sure, I want to be a developer. I want to code for a living. I believe I am at the right place right now. That’s exactly why I don’t want to compromise. I’m not a complete perfectionist, it’s not that I want perfection. With the little knowledge I have, perfection is an unattainable dream at this moment. I just want to be able to write code in the way that anyone can understand what’s happening. I’m new and inexperienced and I’m slow, but I want to do the right thing. I’m afraid thinking this way may cost me my job, if you’re not fast enough, then you’re being inefficient. I know that. I’m not sure if I’m doing the right thing. I wonder if future Claw will look back at me and think “why are you so stubborn, stupid?”. There’s so much to do and I only get two days a week to do it.

I’ve decided to be slow. I’m too new to do a perfect job, and I’ll work as fast as I can without compromising the quality standards I’ve set for myself. I’ll be as neat if possible. If things take a turn for the worse, I guess I’ll deal with things then. I won’t let my fears win against me. I want to be a good coder.


2 replies on “Quality vs Quantity: How Fast Should a Developer Work?”

The thing is, as a n00b, no matter how you try, you won’t have the quality. Quality is something that only experience can teach. I think during the early years you want quantity over quality in order to mechanize certain aspects of programming and the quality will come with time.

One thing that happens to every software engineer is, they are always ashamed of the code they wrote a year ago.

I agree that quality is not really something you can really go for when you’re new, but when you’re writing something that –even as a n00b– you know is crap, should you? Should you hone your speed at the cost of creating code that is incredibly hard to read for others?

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