Software Engineer Qualification

I am writing in response to the blog post at https://www.shiftedup.com/2015/05/07/five-programming-problems-every-software-engineer-should-be-able-to-solve-in-less-than-1-hour titled “Five programming problems every Software Engineer should be able to solve in less than 1 hour”.

This blog post shares a story about a history of people who apply for the position of a software engineer and claim some loosely related skills without actually having any chance of understanding or performing the job. The frustration of the author is expressed, and the author lists five programming tasks to disqualify any supposed “software developer” who would not be able to complete them in under an hour. I attempted them myself and they only took five minutes.

I am not sure what motivation people have to apply for a job that they are in no way capable of performing, but the author of this blog post seems to be fed up with how common it is. Supposedly, though, people who do not know what programming is are attempting to become software engineers.

I think that the list of five programming problems and the time constraint of one hour is a generous filter to sort out all of the people who have never written a program in any language ever before. It certainly would not be enough to qualify for the position of a software engineer, but that is not what the problems are meant to indicate upon fulfillment, it is simply what they are meant to reject upon failure. Somebody who claims to be a “developer” and fails to accomplish these simple tasks should revisit their resume.

The problems themselves are very basic. Find the sum of some numbers using loops or recursion, combine elements in two arrays, calculate Fibonacci numbers, and the last two problems are more peculiar but still simple demonstrations of basic problem solving. It should be evident in much less than an hour whether a person is capable of solving them, and any experienced software engineer should only need ten minutes.

The blog post acknowledges some feedback about the last two problems that are a bit less conventional than the others, but I think that the ability to solve unconventional problems is important, and I think anyone who writes code in something besides a markup language or an object notation could solve them.

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Procedural and Object Oriented Programming

I am writing in response to the blog post at https://www.codementor.io/learn-programming/comparing-programming-paradigms-procedural-programming-vs-object-oriented-programming titled “Comparing Programming Paradigms: Procedural Programming vs Object-Oriented Programming”.

Object oriented programming seems to be the focus of all that is ever taught in a computer science course after the basics of syntax and control structures are covered, which are the basis for procedural programming. The shift into object oriented programming seems to mostly be for the sake of establishing proper design principles such as encapsulation and normalization to reduce redundancy, but these are not mutually exclusive features of the object oriented programming paradigm; it is still entirely feasible to write procedural code that is still “good” code.

The blog post does not directly define what procedural programming is about, but it alludes to the writing of straightforward code that makes use of variables, scope, functions and control loops. Then comes the brief anecdote of writing thousand-line long programs that start to become difficult to maintain, and how the object oriented programming paradigm is the solution. Object oriented design is definitely helpful for improving the scalability of a large program by introducing better organizational practices to the code structure, but the principles of encapsulation and modularity can be applied directly to the poorly maintained program anyway without changing paradigms. This is not to say that object oriented programming is bad or unnecessary, but the point is that procedural programming is not bad and does not need object oriented programming to “fix” it. Procedural code happens to be the most common poorly written code because it is most commonly used by beginners, who learn about better coding practices once introduced to object oriented programming.

Some of the faults with object oriented programming are described in the blog post, adding that it is not the best idea to avoid the use of procedural programming for the sake of adopting the exclusive use of object oriented programming. Modularity regarding class extensions and modification of a class can make things difficult in languages that focus on object oriented programming, where overriding a method or re-implementing a class may have adverse effects on subclasses. It is ultimately decided that multi-paradigm programming is a good choice, where the benefits of procedural and object oriented programming can be combined.

Object Oriented Programming

I am writing in response to the blog post at https://blog.codinghorror.com/your-code-oop-or-poo/ titled “Your Code: OOP or POO?”

Most of the code I have ever written has been founded in the imperative programming paradigm. I began pulling concepts from object oriented programming in the last few years to help organize large projects and keep the structure of things more adaptable. It is a useful way to develop a large framework, but relying on objects for absolutely everything seems like it would tend to cause a lot more problems than it would ever be meant to solve.

This blog post refers to “POO” as “Programming fOr Others”, as opposed to plain Object Oriented Programming (OOP). One of the purposes of object oriented programming, and one of the reasons it is such a dogmatically adhered-to convention, is that it makes it a lot easier for people who did not write the code to understand what it is doing and work with it themselves. The blog post discusses on the topic that object oriented programming can be over-used, and it is not the only solution to writing code that is readable and easy to be understood by others.

There was an excerpt about how there was a type of programmer who would only write five or ten lines of code, preceded by twenty lines of comments, and object oriented programming basically allows the two to be combined. Instead of concise code accompanied by an explanation, there is a large file filled with descriptive language embedded into the structure of the code itself.

Another excerpt mentioned the use of object oriented programming for trivial tasks. I do not think that it makes any sense to go through the effort of supporting scalability and maintainability for something that can be started and completed and discarded so easily without the extra work. A simple command line in an imperative programming language would be far more practical for basic tasks.

Part of the argument made is that a programmer should focus on the principles of object oriented programming, rather than the name. Encapsulation, simplicity, code re-use and maintainability are the main ideas, not just objects.

Premature optimization

I am writing in response to the blog post at https://9clouds.com/blog/premature-optimization-the-root-of-all-evil/ titled “Premature Optimization: The Root of All Evil”.

Premature optimization is about focusing on making sure the code will be able to run as fast as possible before anything actually works yet. It is time consuming and, by definition, “premature”, so it is not a good thing to do. The blog post quotes Donald Knuth who said “Premature optimization is the root of all evil.” For sizable projects, premature optimization is practically procrastination. It is about making sure that the program works well in theory before making sure that it works at all. The blost post seems to be referring to premature optimization on the scale of businesses, where I am only considering the effect on individual programs and projects, but the effects are the same. It makes more sense to finish something that works and then improve it than it does to improve it first and then finish it.

I have done a lot of premature optimization on small projects, and it certainly does take up a lot of time. I tend to do it just because it is interesting, though, to try to come up with such an implementation that performs optimally. It is a secondary challenge that puts off the original task. If it becomes tedious or starts to seem wasteful then I just write something that works and move on to the next part, and if it matters or makes a difference, and it never does, I can just look into how to make things faster again. The idea of actually producing something in a professional sense and becoming caught up in the performance details on a small scale before the rest of the product is finished definitely seems like it would be a waste of time. Premature optimization requires making predictions of how things are going to work after they are made, and devising a plan to make things fit together smoothly before the things even exist yet. It makes much more sense to make the things first, and then make them work together better afterwards.

JavaScript vs Typescript

I am writing in response to the blog post at https://www.guru99.com/typescript-vs-javascript.html titled “Typescript vs JavaScript: What’s the Difference?”. This is particularly relevant to our CS 343 Software Construction, Design and Architecture class because our final projects are written using Typescript.

The blog post starts out by describing what JavaScript and Typescript are. JavaScript is described as a scripting language meant for front end web development for interactive web pages, and it states that it is not meant for large applications – only for applications with a few hundred lines of code. I think the google home page source code would like to disagree with that, with its thousands of lines of condensed minified JS code running behind its seemingly plain surface, but given the speed of JavaScript in relation to faster languages, it makes sense that it was never actually intended to be used for large applications. The blog post moves on to explain what Typescript is about. Typescript is a JavaScript development language that is compiled to JavaScript code and provides optional typing and type safety.

A list of reasons why to use JavaScript and why to use Typescript are provided, but they are not in opposition; the reasons to use JavaScript are not reasons to not use Typescript, they are really just descriptions of JavaScript. JavaScript is a useful language, and Typescript is a useful extension of JavaScript. After a history of the languages are given, a table of comparisons is provided. Typescript has types and interfaces, JavaScript does not. Typescript supposedly has a steeper learning curve, but given that plain JavaScript syntax will work when writing Typescript, the learning curve does not seem steeper necessarily, only longer, given the additional functionality that is offered by Typescript. Similarly, Typescript not having a community of developers as large as JavaScript’s seems to not be significant given that a programmer writing in Typescript may gain just as much utility from the community of JavaScript developers as the community of Typescript developers, given how similar the languages are. An interesting factoid at the end is that Typescript developers have a higher average salary than JavaScript developers, by about a third.

Full Stack Developer

I am writing in response to the blog post at https://www.guru99.com/full-stack-developer.html titled “What is Full Stack Developer? Skills to become a Web Developer”. A full stack developer is somebody who is able to work in both front end and back end development. We have worked with back end development in CS 343 with our work in REST APIs, and we have also worked with front end development using Angular JS and TypeScript. Full stack development involves writing both ends.

The blog post describes a full-stack web developer as somebody who can work on both the front end and the back end of an application. It provides a tiered model of application layers that the developer should be familiar with: the presentation layer, business logic layer and database layer. We have briefly discussed the concept of a layered application model in class before. The presentation layer is the front end that handles the user interface, and the business logic layer and database layer correspond to the back end.

Some average income statistics are provided in the blog post, which shows that a “back end developer” earns more on average than a “full stack developer”, which seems counter-intuitive because a full stack developer, in theory, is capable of accomplishing the same tasks as a back end developer and more.

A clarification is made about the expected duties of a full stack developer; a supposed myth is that a full stack developer is going to be writing all of the code by themselves, writing both the front end and back end for a single large application because both jobs are within their skill set. In actuality, it is not the job of a full stack developer to produce everything alone. The blog post describes a full stack developer as a sort of a bridge between front end developers and back end developers who are working on the same project, because the full stack developer has a good perspective of both ends and how they interact with each other. In this sense, it is clear that a full stack developer in a development team is particularly beneficial for communication.

Backend Development

I am writing in response to the blog post at https://www.guru99.com/what-is-backend-developer.html titled “What is Backend Developer? Skills to become a Web Developer”. We have begun learning about backend development in the CS 343 Software Construction, Design and Architecture class by studying REST APIs using TypeScript and Angular JS. The blog post gives a general description of backend development and some career-related information like skillsets and average salaries.

Backend development is about defining the behavior and structure of a backend server and/or database. As opposed to the front-end, the backend is not visible to a visitor of a website or application or user of a service. One primary part of the backend may involve a database, where information is stored and retrieved to present to a user. The other primary component of a backend is the server, which is the machine that runs code and handles functionality. APIs are also part of backend development, which are interfaces designed for the purpose of enabling a front-end to communicate with the server.

A backend developer is an individual who creates and maintains the backend. The blog post goes into some detail about what a backend developer is generally expected to do, what their goal is, and also how much they tend to get paid. According to the blog post, back-end developers get paid more than front-end developers. Backend developers tend to the database, server and API for the purpose of supporting the front-end.

One particularly interesting distinction between a back-end and a front-end is that a back-end can be developed independently of a front-end, but a front-end cannot be developed independently of a back-end. It is possible to simply design a back-end for no intended application, and then afterwards build the application around the existing back-end service.

This article is a good summary of what backend development is about and what a backend developer does, and the difference between a front-end developer and a backend developer. Aside from the database management related components of backend development, the given description of backend development is consistent with what it is we are dealing with in class.