Sunday, November 27, 2011

architect - skills needed^skill-tests in IV?

Most items below are relevant for a senior developer too, but this discussion is about software architects. By "Skill" I mean something practical, relevant, value-adding... An architect should bring some of these skills to a team. Think of these as job duties, if you like.

skill - insight on the limitations of a large number of impractical/discredited designs. Everyone can come up with some solutions on-paper, but most of them won't work.
skill - know a large number of common errors and solutions -- usually available on google but way too many. You don't need insight. Just awareness is valuable enough. This comes from "mileage".
skill - insight on weakness and limitations of dominant, default solutions (like Oracle, linux, WCF, protobuf...)
skill - insight on project best practices and their limitations
skill - know a large number of FOSS and commercial solutions
skill - write library component for others. The more developers use the component, the more senior this author is
skill - multiple technologies (non-trivial skill with each). Most financial/non-financial apps need more than one of DB, java/c#/c++, javascript, GUI, MOM, so an architect needs proficiency with more than one technology.
skill - practical testing strategy, automated or not. Junior guys may be too busy to worry about these. Testing can be tricky.
skill - tuning, optimization. Often overrated relative to GettingThingsDone.
** memory mgmt
** data structures nitty-gritty
** threading

Those are the skills interviewers like. Here are some evidence interviewers look for --

evidence - ability to clearly describe past systems, their design trad-offs, architecture, challenges, limitations,
evidence - ability to draw simple (but effective!) diagrams to illustrate any technical design
evidence - contribution to FOSS
evidence - know algorithms and their computational complexities. Google? Often overrated.
evidence - can identify and apply comp science constructs to programming problems, independently, without guidance -- tough. Often overrated.
evidence(?) - know the "gory" details of popular languages
evidence - brain teaser mastery
evidence - design patterns. This is one of the laziest interview tests -- ask the candidate to describe how he employed DP.

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http://www.linkedin.com/in/tanbin