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abdessamad idboussadel
abdessamad idboussadel

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How to Become a 10x Dev

Nowadays, everyone wants to be what we call a "10x developer." However, this term is often misunderstood and overvalued.
In essence, a productive or 10x developer, in my opinion, is someone who can use all the tools available to his advantage, by letting these tools take care of redundant and repetitive tasks and enabling him to focus on complex and creative work. Here are some tips and tricks to become a 10x developer:

Automate Repetitive Tasks with scripts:

Automating repetitive tasks through scripting is a game-changer for developers seeking to optimize their workflow.

By figuring out which tasks can be automated like testing and deployment and then letting scripts handle them, developers can focus on the more challenging parts of their job and save a bunch of time in the process.

For example, this script creates a new project folder, named by user input, and opens it in the file explorer:

import os
import subprocess

def create_project_folder(project_name):
    # Create a new folder for the project
    os.makedirs(project_name)

    # Open the project folder in the file explorer
    subprocess.run(['explorer', project_name])

# Get the project name from the user
project_name = input("Enter the name of your new project: ")

# Call the function to create and open the project folder
create_project_folder(project_name)

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Keyboard Shortcuts Mastery :

Mastering keyboard shortcuts in your code editor or IDE is crucial for speeding up your coding workflow.

Some shortcuts exemples for VS code:

Ctrl + P: Quick file navigation, allowing you to open files by name.
Ctrl + Shift + L: Select all occurrences of the current word.
Ctrl + /: Toggle line comment
Ctrl + A: Selects all the lines in the current file
Ctrl + F: Finds a specific text in the code
Ctrl + Shift + P: Open the command palette for various commands.
Alt + Up/Down Arrow: Move the current line up or down.
Shift + Right Arrow (→): Select the character to the right of the cursor.
Shift + Left Arrow (←): Select the character to the left of the cursor.
Alt + Click: Hold down the Alt key and click at different locations in the code to create multiple cursors, allowing you to edit or type in those locations simultaneously.

Don't Over-Engineer:

Avoid the temptation to over-engineer your solutions. Adding unnecessary code or architectural complications is a common pitfall that many engineers and programmers encounter.

However, keeping it simple not only benefits your current workflow but also makes it easier for others to understand and collaborate on your code in the future.

Mastering Version Control Workflow:

Becoming good at using Version Control Workflow, like with Git, will tremendously boost your productivity and help your team to work together without stepping on each other's toes.

Especially with tools like GitKraken or any other GUI alternative that provides an intuitive interface that simplifies tasks like branching, merging, and tracking changes, making collaboration smoother.

GitKraken website image

And if something goes wrong, you can easily go back to how things were before. It's like having a safety net that makes sure everyone's work fits together smoothly, making the whole process of building software much faster and less stressful.

Utilize Existing Components and Libraries:

Instead of reinventing the wheel, use tried-and-tested solutions that are available. This not only saves time but also makes your code more reliable and efficient.

This approach allows you to focus more on the unique aspects of your project. It's a smart strategy to enhance productivity and create robust software without starting from scratch.

Embrace HTML Emmet for Rapid Prototyping :

Emmet is a toolkit for web developers that allows for quick and efficient coding through abbreviations.
If you are using HTML, Emmet can dramatically speed up the process of creating HTML structures.

example:

div>(header>ul>li*2>a)+footer>p
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Output:

<div>
    <header>
        <ul>
            <li><a href=""></a></li>
            <li><a href=""></a></li>
        </ul>
    </header>
    <footer>
        <p></p>
    </footer>
</div>
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Leverage AI Assistance:

  • GitHub Copilot : Is an AI-powered code completion tool developed by GitHub in collaboration with OpenAI. It transforms the way developers write code by generating intelligent suggestions and auto-completions as they type. It's one of the best AI tools I've tried so far.

GitHub Copilot

  • TabNine : Is an AI-driven autocompletion extension for code editors. It goes beyond traditional autocompletion by using machine learning models to predict and suggest entire lines or blocks of code. Users can choose to use TabNine for free with some limitations or opt for the Pro version by subscribing to gain access to advanced functionalities.

TabNine

  • Chatgpt : ChatGPT can be a real game-changer for your productivity. For instance, it can provide helpful examples, like suggesting an array for testing or helping reconstruct code snippets.

Chatgpt exemple

If you're stuck or need clarification on a programming concept, ChatGPT can offer quick and easy-to-understand explanations. It's like having a knowledgeable coding buddy who's available 24/7 to assist you with coding challenges, making your development process smoother and more efficient.

Extensions in VS code :

Extensions in VS Code can significantly boost productivity by adding functionality, automating tasks, and enhancing the development environment:

  • prettier : Prettier is an opinionated code formatter, it automatically formats your code to look clean and consistent, saving you from the hassle of manual formatting. With Prettier, your code becomes easy on the eyes, and you can focus more on writing logic rather than worrying about styling.

prettier extension

  • Auto rename tag: The Auto Rename Tag extension is like having a coding assistant for your HTML or XML. When you change the name of an opening tag, this extension automatically updates the closing tag to match.

Auto rename tag extension

  • Better Comments: The Better Comments extension will help you create more human-friendly comments in your code. With this extension, you will be able to categorise your annotations.

Better Comments extension

  • IntelliSense : IntelliSense is your coding sidekick, offering smart code completion and suggestions as you type. It anticipates your needs and provides relevant options, making coding more efficient.Some examples :

Tailwind CSS IntelliSense extension

Path Intellisense extension

npm Intellisense extension

  • Peacock : Peacock is super helpful when you're working on lots of projects and jumping around between VSCode windows. It lets you link a color to each project, so whenever you open it, you can quickly see which window you're in by the color.

Peacock extension


In conclusion, incorporating these strategies and tools can genuinely revolutionize your approach to coding, transforming you into a more efficient and effective developer. Embracing a 10x mindset not only enhances individual productivity but also positively contributes to your team. So, go ahead, implement these tips, and watch as your coding journey goes to a whole other level.

This article was originally published on my website idboussadel.me.

Top comments (59)

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miketalbot profile image
Mike Talbot ⭐

I see a lot of under-engineering in code, over simplification without a view for the future and an understanding of the final goal. YAGNI - you ARE going to need it.... Most good choices are about understanding what is needed in architecture and what is not. 10x is about this for me. A senior attitude not a junior. A focus on the result not the process. Functionality over linting. Users over developers. Execution over elegance.

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jmau111 profile image
jmau111⚡⚡⚡

Very well put.

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yutamago profile image
Yutamago

"My code looks like shit but it works. Leave me alone."

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miketalbot profile image
Mike Talbot ⭐

I was suggesting a balance, one that favours functionality over form. If your code looks like shit and is unmaintainable then you've broken multiple of the rules I listed.

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explorer14 profile image
Aman Agrawal

So just use more tools to become a 10x dev? 😀

Don't get me wrong using the best tools for the job is important, but if you want to be 10x effective then the following are crucial as well:

  1. Ability to communicate complex ideas to tech as well as business audience to build alignment and get important plans executed
  2. Spending time understanding the ins and outs of the business domain you are solving problems for so you can solve them better instead of being a "feature factory"
  3. Coaching and mentoring engineers to up level everyone around you so that team doesn't have a single point of failure on the one "10x rockstar engineer" (remember Dennis Nedri from the first Jurassic Park movie, the plump computer nerd that brought down the park as he bailed out? 🙂)
  4. Ability to see the problem in the abstract and being able to lead the design of a concrete robust solution that fits the context and the constraints the best (also known as architecting)
  5. Relentless pursuit of continuous improvement and learning. Reflection is a big part of this and comes in various forms (ADRs, design reviews, technical debt addressal, team retrospectives etc)
  6. Ability to research complex topics, analyse data and synthesise ideas and insights, and make deliberate pragmatic design decisions as a team.
  7. Ability to see the link between organisation design and software design and pushing for better org design (very much related to understanding the business)
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pierrewahlberg profile image
Pierre Vahlberg

A lot of time a "good" developer, that some refer to as 10x, is versatile and dynamic in the setting, tools, contexts and project groups you put him/her in. What separates these people are primarily problem solving skills, understanding of needs, requirements and context and an ability to not just implement but to discuss options and reason the way to the best solution.

A 10x developer could be spending more time in notepad or a whiteboard than anything else just to hash out, illustrate, orient and pivot theoretically with the team and THEN build the right thing one. What you moreover refer to as a "fast developer" in this article is a solo code monkey who will likely be good at building MVPs quickly but his time will ve spend getting it working instead of having a solid plan and goal that is anchored and therefore having a good understanding of what issues all the tools must solve, making it easier and faster to stack it up to a solution. Think first, communicate with tech and non-tech, and versatility is what I look for in new colleagues.

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ldrscke profile image
Christian Ledermann • Edited

I agree with Bill Eager when he argues in The True 10x Engineer:

The True 10x Engineer is an empathic, collaborative engineer who understands that helping others doesn’t come at the expense of their own achievement or professional development. In fact, it’s the richest way to augment it.
Outdated and harmful misconceptions about engineering excellence have given rise to the stereotype of a 10x Engineer who is standoffish, siloed, silent, and selfish. To the unenlightened, this engineer seems like an asset to your engineering team, but they’re really a ticking time bomb. Ultimately, the gains in productivity you get from this type of engineer will be wiped out by their organizational toxicity.

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ldrscke profile image
Christian Ledermann • Edited

BTW in A Tale of Two Kitchens - Hypermodernizing Your Python Code Base I give very similar advice, as you do in this article

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alekswritescode profile image
Aleks Popovic

I get what you were going for. This is a quality article with some very good suggestions on how to become a better, or a more productive developer, but the title is somewhat clickbaity. :)

The original "10x developer" is largely a myth, and even if it wasn't you definitely shouldn't be striving to be one. If you were able to write 10x more code than anyone else and not lose on quality or your own sanity you wouldn't be working as a regular dev anyway.

Your advice is sound, though, especially using existing tools/components/libraries when you can instead of reinventing the wheel. I would be cautions about using AI in office environment though, as your company might be against that for security/privacy reasons.

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idboussadel profile image
abdessamad idboussadel

I said at the beginning of the article that the term is often misunderstood and overvalued. I am not saying that with my tips you will create 10 more projects than a regular dev but IMHO they will definitely help you write clean code, save you a lot of time, and be more productive.

About AI, yes you're absolutely right some big companies like Google forbid using AI for security reasons.
And for using existing components/libraries you should be careful and use tried, tested secure/maintainable, and scalable solutions.
Thank you for your great comment.

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cappe987 profile image
Casper

There are also licenses to take into account. I haven't kept up with the latest versions, but AI could generate exact copies of e.g. GPL licensed code which cannot be used in proprietary codebases.

Is it likely to lead to a lawsuit? No. And it is probably very much a gray and unexplored area. But when coding by hand we have to ensure we don't violate licenses and copyright. Just because AI is doing the work we can't throw any considerations out the window.

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devnaqvi profile image
devnaqvi

Few more:

  1. Always degrade junior developers even if they are telling you the right thing tell them that you have 20 years of experience.

  2. Share rules that you don't follow yourself like Propagate that array methods are slow always use old school loops but use array methods all the time.

  3. Call it interpolation instead of template literals.

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victoreke profile image
Victor Eke

Lol. I've come to realize people who call template literals interpolation usually come from a CS background. Java to be specific.

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devnaqvi profile image
devnaqvi

Maybe, but I guess they come from University of Flex 😂

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syeo66 profile image
Red Ochsenbein (he/him)

I think being a 10x engineer has nothing to do with his ability to churn out more code, but everything to do with enabling whole teams to work more efficiently.

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miketalbot profile image
Mike Talbot ⭐

Agreed, it's about delivering 10x more functionality to the user. This is about architecting to succeed and providing an environment where the whole team can flourish. An architect who can deliver a framework where everyone is productive can 10x everyone in the team not just themselves.

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chideracode profile image
Chidera Humphrey

Nice article here, Abdessamad.

I really like the fact of not over-engineering. Over-engineering often cause more harm than good.

P.S: I'm writing an article on over-engineering, including pitfalls and ways to mitigate it.

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jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel (jmfayard.dev)

This is about typing 10x faster.
That's the wrong goal IMHO

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idboussadel profile image
abdessamad idboussadel

A highly productive developer is often referred to as a "10x dev."
In my opinion, productivity can be boosted through tools like extensions, Emmet, and AI, which facilitate faster typing.
However, mastering Git, automating repetitive tasks, and adhering to the principle of not over-engineering or writing clean code are essential concepts that contribute not only to your typing but also to being a good developer or engineer.
Thank you for your constructive criticism.

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jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel (jmfayard.dev)

I understand and I'm not saying all of this doesn't matter.

But consider the amount of coding it requires to yet another bank with its thousands pages of regulations to implement and that no-body really needs.
Imagine you actually do all this coding 10x better than the average programmer.

Compare that to working on creating "git" in its early stage.
Imagine for example that you would have insisted in making "git" and its syntax more straightforward, the tool easier to learn. Imagine that you would have done this work just at average speed.

I would argue that in the second case you would have worked in something with drastically more impact than in the first case.

The second developer would have been much more efficient than the first who wouldn't have been more productive, but still, it doesn't matter that much in the grand scheme of things.

In the second case you worked on the right things in the right team.

That's when you are really 10x.

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idboussadel profile image
abdessamad idboussadel

Yes, for banks, for example, you can't use external libraries or speed up the process of writing code, or it will be a mess. You have tools, and you should know when to use them.
It’s not just about writing code; it’s about being the engineer who picks the perfect plan for success.

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jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel (jmfayard.dev)

What does success mean though ?
I think that doing the right things is more important than doing things right (or fast).

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vivi9876 profile image
Viv.esProcSPL

Great Article !

How can i contact you ?

can you check my profile and send a email to me ?

thanks! 0.0

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idboussadel profile image
abdessamad idboussadel

thnx, you can DM me on Twitter it's in my profile

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vivi9876 profile image
Viv.esProcSPL

i have try , but you DM not open . can you DM me ?
or email me ?

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manchicken profile image
Mike Stemle

People should develop their skills how they want, but there’s no need for us to chase a billionaire’s propaganda or to work more for the same (or less) money.

There’s no such thing as a 10x developer, and we shouldn’t be working so hard to compete with one another for the distinction of having poured 10 times more blood into the gears of capitalism.

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miketalbot profile image
Mike Talbot ⭐

Perhaps this is more about the individual, rather than the corporation? I agree that no one should punish themselves for someone else's benefit. It's hard to be recognised though if you choose to be average. It's hard to succeed if you don't take a risk.

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manchicken profile image
Mike Stemle • Edited

I don’t find your argument compelling. Not only do I take issue with the characterization of “choosing” to be average, but this cult of the individual is a pernicious trend.

There’s no such thing as a 10x developer, and anybody competing with others in the pursuit this fiction is only playing into the myths of the billionaires, to the detriment of the community around them.

We can strive to be our best selves without wanting our bosses to compare others to ourselves unfavorably.

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justnewbee profile image
Jianchun Wang

Agreed on most of your points, except that I think "Don't Over-Engineer" might encourage people to write over 1000 code inside one single file - I see that a lot.
Abstraction is developers' basic skill to avoid code redundancy and improve consistency. And how "over" is "over"? It can be very difficult to tell.

And here are some other points:

  1. Master the skill of multi-cursor editing
  2. Choose CLI over GUI
  3. I think JB products provides more productivity

Cheers ☺️

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artu_hnrq profile image
Arthur Henrique

Hey, great tips! I'll find myself going deeper in some suggestions. Thanks!

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samiralibabic profile image
Samir Alibabic

Now that you read this, you can call yourself 10X developer.

If it were that easy! 🤣

Being good comes with experience. 🙄

You can’t learn / read it. You have to experience it, over and over again. Expose yourself to the topics you don’t understand yet, get out of your comfort zone and never stop learning.

Just like „get-rich-quick“ schemes, becoming 10X overnight, won’t work.

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davelapchuk profile image
Dave Lapchuk

One thing I don't see mentioned here that's important is making sure the things you work on add as much real value as possible. If you do 100 things nobody cares about and others do 10, still nobody cares. If you do 10 things people actually care about and others do 1 thing of real value then people will notice.