#AskADev: What Devs Wish Non-Devs Knew About Them

This month's #AskADev post addresses the issue of incorrect assumptions.

Do devs feel misunderstood? What tools do they really like? And what do they wish people knew about their work? Every month, we collect your questions and pose them to developers to provide insight about your audience from your audience.

Today’s question addresses the issue of incorrect assumptions. Those always busy devs huddled together in their section of the building, might seem like a bit of a mystery to the other groups in the company that interact with them.

So, let’s dig in. We asked two devs and one former dev (and popular current Dzone zone leader), what they believe are the biggest incorrect assumptions non-devs make about devs. Here are their responses:

Travis Johnson, technical support engineer at Devada

“I think non-devs sometimes think that developers are not “customer-centric.” There are developers who are set in their ways about code and how they do a project. But I feel that is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. My experience is that developers work on products with the user in mind, and if they are developing a product for other developers, they are (rightly) thinking about how devs would use it. I feel as though this is a blend of the developer community thinking progressively as well as companies providing better, more open, environments for their developers to learn and grow.”

Frank Eaves, senior engineer at Devada

“I think non-devs sometimes think we can read their minds. Take the case of requirements. Too often, non-developers are unintentionally vague in specifying what they want. This leaves the developer in an awkward position. For one, if we go back and ask for more clarification, we run the risk of being seen as stubborn or not wanting to do the work. If we don’t ask questions, as we do the work, the holes in the requirements emerge. Then non-devs have to change the requirements mid-project in reaction to what is delivered. That causes the schedule to slip. Devs like to please non-devs, and we ache when we miss a deadline because the requirements were not specific enough to get the job done the first time.”

Jo Stichbury, DZone Performance and AI Zone leader, former C/C++ developer, and freelance tech writer

“I think there’s still a broad stereotype that developers are young, white, male, and geeky. It’s getting better, but there are still plenty of opportunities to encourage and support anyone who wants to get into engineering, as we certainly need as many developers as we can get. My particular experience is that, as an older female developer with a family, it is harder to integrate into teams where the expectation is that you work long hours on site. It’s not just about attracting people into development, but about retaining skilled developers in the workforce.”

Want your questions answered by a dev? Tweet your question to @Devada_Inc and tag it #askadev.