Jan, Senior Software Engineer at Mozilla, on Clean Code

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A few weeks ago, I shared a post giving the answer to the question “What is clean code?” by five of the most respected software engineers in the industry. I concluded the article by saying:

I’ve also planned for the coming weeks to ask this question to some developers I respect in order to share their answers with you, with my comments.

Well for today’s article, I have the privilege to share with you the answer by Jan Keromnes, who is a senior software engineer at Mozilla. If you’re not aware, Mozilla is one of the hottest companies for which to work for as a developer, together with other big names such as Google, Facebook and Amazon. The selection process to get in is incredibly competitive, which means that only the best software engineers make it. And those who know Jan are actually not surprised at all that he’s one of the few who’s made it (and quickly became “senior”, on top of that).

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My first baby steps with web development

Last week, I explained how I decided to focus on web development (HTML-CSS-JS). I ended my post saying that even though I knew where I wanted to go, I had no clues where to start.

If you type “How to learn web technologies” on Google, you easily find hundreds of websites telling you that they have the best solution to make you a pro in a few months only if you follow their plans and courses. And when you don’t know where to start, going through them one by one to make up your mind can be quite tiring. You can also check many discussion boards on websites like Quora and Reddit, only to find yourself more confused and dazzled by the myriad of options available.

As a busy young dad, I didn’t want to waste any second and wanted to make sure that my way of approaching the subject would be as efficient as possible. But I also didn’t want to waste too many hours researching this most efficient way…

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Which development ecosystem to choose?

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Last week, I shared my one-year plan to become a remote & freelance developer. I ended my post saying that the next step for me would be to choose a development ecosystem to focus on.

Today, being a “software developer” doesn’t say much about what kind of work one is really doing. The daily work of someone coding the behaviour of a factory robot or a flying drone looks nothing like the daily routine of a mobile app developer working in the banking industry. The tools and languages used are very different, as well as the constraints and the skills required. Actually, there exists almost as many different kinds of developer jobs as there are developers!

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My journey back to development

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I’ve always strived to excel at what I do. There are few things more unfulfilling to me than spending most of my waking hours working on things of mediocre quality. No matter what we do, there are always people impacted by the quality of our work, be they colleagues, bosses, customers or end-users. And we have the power to make their lives harder or easier simply by decreasing or improving the quality of the service we are providing. Therefore, striving to be a good professionnal is one of the most loving and caring things anyone of us could do.

This has always been my mantra. And that’s why as soon as I joined Esker, my current company, as a technical support engineer, my main focus has been from day one to be the best I could be.

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Beware of companies hiring too easily

Last week, I wrote about how the way I perceived developers radically improved for the better during the past few years. This was partly due to a better understand of the law of supply and demand, showing that the value on anything on the market is based on the power balance between what’s needed and what’s provided. In other words, the more I need you (your service or your product), the more you can charge for it, and vice-versa. Today, I want to discuss my current perspective on the way developers are recruited, based on my experience. And as you’ll see, the law of supply and demand will again play a big part.

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The value of (good) developers

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Last week, I shared how I reached a very low view of software development (and thus developers) even though I studied computer science at university. I ended my post saying that things started to change when I saw how some of my friends who were passionate about development got great jobs at prestigious companies, with amazing salaries and work conditions.

In this post, I want to share how my perception of software switched from being a commodity to being one of the most valuable assets for today’s companies, and then how this new perception started influencing my career decisions.

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So… what is clean code? Let’s ask some giants!

code on screen

As I’ve explained in my introductory post, I’m going to blog mainly on the topic of clean coding practices.

Now, you may be wondering what is meant by “clean code”. What exactly does it mean for code to be “clean”?

Well, the answer is tricky. It’s as if you were to ask an architect what makes an architecture “good”. I guess that if we were to ask the top 20 architects in the world to answer the question: “What is good architecture?”, we’d pretty much get 20 different answers.

However, by listening to their answers, we may start to get a feel as to what the important criteria are, and also find recurrent and common themes emerging.

In the classic book on the subject I’m currently reading called Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship by Robert Martin (called “Uncle Bob” in the industry), the author shares the answer to the question: “What is clean code?” by five of the most respected software engineers in the industry.

To help you get a feel for what clean code is, I’ve reproduced their answers below.

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