Or, more specifically, I am not a code developer. I wrote my first bit of code when I was seven, and have been writing software pretty much non-stop since then. I don’t know if I’ve gone more than a week, in almost 35 years, without writing code. Crazy.
As one might guess from that amount of experience, I’ve mostly always had a job that carried with it the title of ‘developer’. In the true sense of the word, that is very true. I do indeed ‘develop’ something. But in my industry, the term developer usually focuses on writing code. Once again, technically that’s true, I do spend most of my time writing code. Where I differentiate myself is where I place my focus.
Though I may often write as much code as any other developer, my focus is never on the code itself or the enjoyment of coding. From the very beginning, I’ve always written code so that I could have the resulting functionality: a drawing program (pre-Photoshop and Paint), a comic book tracker, a baseball stats tracker, accounting software for my church, a note taker for people I meet on Twitter (PeepNote), a motivational service for children (Commendable Kids), etc. I’m always creating something. Even as a kid I would spend my summers writing software all day.
In order to make a living, I’ve also, of course, written software for other people, organizations, and companies. The catch for me in those situations, was that since I don’t write code because I like the resulting code, I have to have an interest in the particular project I’m being paid to work on. This is possible to some extent when taking a full-time job, but very hard to do as a freelancer. In the latter case, I found myself sometimes having to work on projects I really didn’t care about, which results in me just writing code. Since that is contrary to what I’m passionate about, I lose energy and focus, and lack the feeling of real accomplishment and that I’m helping improve life using technology.
In the end, it’s about creating solutions and the code is simply a tool to get them built. If I were a building architect, I would care more about the resulting building than I would about the materials, tools, or methodologies used to build it. I do work on learning and refining those things, and often teaching them, but that isn’t where I get my sense of satisfaction, nor my energy.
I don’t get that excited finding new ways to code things, or fine tuning a loop to shave off a millisecond just because I can. I do enjoy streamlining the development process, even creating ways to be more efficient, but all of that is focused solely on the goal of creating a specific, helpful, life (or job) improving software solution. I just happen to write awesome code to do it.