Regarding Rockstars

A potential client asked us recently: “What makes you rockstars?” The question had us stumped and it took a while for us to realize why. Here’s how we responded:

We’re not rockstars. We’re the roadies.

We work our tails off behind the scenes to make your application the rockstar. We do all of the technical stuff that goes unnoticed (because it just works). And we love it. We hold a really high standard for our work. I’ll quickly explain a few of the habits that are part of our culture and help us maintain such a high level of quality:

  1. We pair program. We put two heads on every challenge. We’ve found this saves our clients time and money because it’s done right the first time.
  2. We peer review. When a pair is happy with their work on a feature, their code is scrutinized by our other developers. It’s the final polish to ensure the feature will work efficiently and as expected.
  3. We’re pragmatic. We won’t waste our client’s time or money building features for hypothetical future business requirements. We scope our work to match the existing need. This keeps us all on task and on budget.
  4. We practice test-driven development. Every feature we write is covered by a suite of tests. This gives us confidence that as the application evolves, existing vital functions aren’t neglected or broken in the process.
  5. We use a number of code analysis tools (Travis, Code Climate, Gemnasium, etc.) to ensure that our tests are always passing, our code quality “grade” is high and that we’re using the latest and most secure libraries. For example, the average code quality grade for Collective Idea projects is 3.8 (out of 4). For reference, the average grade for projects that we inherit from other firms is 2.5.

If this all sounds extremely boring… good. We love this stuff, but it’s work for roadies, not rockstars.


In Between by Mike Schmid is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Photo of Steve Richert

Steve is a Senior Developer working with Ruby/Rails and JavaScript. He’s an active open source contributor and the lead developer for Interactor. Steve is also involved in documenting and improving Collective Idea’s software development practices.

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  1. whoward.tke@gmail.com
    Will
    March 17, 2014 at 12:23 PM

    I like the term roadie, good idea, I will have to remember this

  2. craig@rareearth.us
    Craig
    March 20, 2014 at 17:32 PM

    Every so-called “rockstar” developer should read this. Bravo!