A human guide to understanding developers

Y'all got no chill

DISCLAIMER: I’m not trying to hurt anyone’s feelings at all. I’m actually a very sweet and loving guy (totes).

So, I am a graphic designer with some background in digital design and rather little background in development. Even though I have worked together with plenty of developers, I still have moments where I feel like a 3-year-old that has just bumped into a wall for the fifth time that hour. Most people that have no background in development or IT will be able to relate with this, so this guide might be useful to you.

When #oSoc16 started, I was placed on the Data Science Lab team (team moby link) and even though the project itself is impressive, I had a hard time understanding what it was all about. It took two days, three people and a few childish sketches for me to understand it. (This is the point where you can start to judge me or question my intelligence). I felt a bit dumb and uncomfortable to be honest. Since then the goal of the project has shifted a bit and I switched with Lisa to another project.

The thing is, most developers will assume you know what URIs are and will look weird when you ask if Angular is the new restaurant opening in town. Here are a few things you should keep in mind when talking to a developer:

1. Just use the word “CODE” for everything that sounds like chinese to you in your head

Developer: Hey, can you send me the assets for the front-end. I’m trying to deploy later today and I’m working with GULP so lots of scss codes and files. And I still don’t know whether I should use GetElementById or just $(“”). So hurry

What I hear: Hey, can you send me the assets for the front-end. I’m trying to CODE later today and I’m working with CODE so lots of CODE and files. And I still don’t know whether I should use CODE or just CODE. So hurry

See? It’s that easy. Keep this in mind: “Speak to me as you would to a young child. Or a golden retriever.”

burning cake

2. Developers are actually so dramatic

Developers have the most sick ass problem solving skills. It’s actually insane.

The thing is though. They always seem to find a problem. “Soooo dramatic right?”

For example: I might be looking at a page thinking, “Oh this looks good, the hover is working, I am able to click here, YAY this is LIT AT”

The developer: “Yeah but we need changes there, there and oh there and we have like 702 bug fixes to do, I tagged you on Git were you not looking at your screen?”

However, thanks to their problem solving skills the product works perfectly and we don’t need to worry about it anymore.

3. Don’t talk. Chat.

This is something I don’t get and I don’t know if it’s a common thing that every developer does but what happened to good old bump and chat.

Now it’s six messages on slack followed by a “Hey why are you not reading slack??!?!!!”

diva woman no

But it’s okay though, I got used to it and I see the benefits of using Slack. The file sharing for example is real nice + the random channel is epic. Epic.

4. An actual tip: think in circles, squares, lines, dots…

What I try to do when trying to understand something difficult is thinking in primitive graphical objects we all know. Things like circles, squares, lines, dots, colors, rectangles,… Any of those will do and I try to replace the difficult words with those objects. I group things and make sure everything is clear in my head.

For example: to understand how linked data works, I asked two teammates, developers, to draw me how it works in basic objects. After four minutes I completely understood the whole concept. So give it a try, let the developers draw something and visualize what they are trying to say.

In all seriousness I think developers do a great job and especially the ones here at open Summer of code. Most developers could only dream of doing what these guys are doing over here.

nodding woman


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