DEV Community

Discussion on: What does it take to be a senior developer?

aksfjh profile image

I think a lot of people here are focusing on what it means to be a "good developer" over a "senior developer". It's really important to think of what it means to be "senior" before focusing on the "developer" part of the title. When we think of what it means to be "senior" in other contexts, while not entirely meaning "oldest member(s) of a group," it definitely means seasoned and knowledgeable within that context.

A Senior at high school/college is going to know where everything is and have their own "tips" about various things to help them in that environment. They'll know when to show up on campus to get to that first class on time, the first day of class they can show up 5 minutes late with no penalty, etc. A Senior Accountant is going to know what rules you can and can't push to keep your financial filings from raising eyebrows. They'll know that eating out a lot with an $10 tab is going to raise more eyebrows than $50-100 a piece (don't quote me on this). Overall, they have specific knowledge that is environment specific that comes from plenty of experience.

So where does this fit in with a software developer? Senior devs know their environment (projects and scopes) and have a deep understanding of what they're responsible for. Their insight and work saves days, if not weeks, of research, prototyping, and deploying. This can come from some hardcore understanding of general programming topics, or by the standard tradition of being around for a long time and taking the lead on environment/project-defining work. Most importantly, that "senior" descriptor is contextual and may not apply across all projects.