Thursday, October 8, 2009

Can you still be technical if you don't code?

[This was originally posted at]

Can you still be technical if you don't code? A lot of developers have a passion for the technology, do a great job in their current role of implementing solutions (which requires coding), and then get "promoted" into some "big picture" role that no longer does implementation - ironically the thing they did so well at. These higher-level roles often do lots of non-trivial things, but not actual coding. For example:

  • Infrastructure (Servers, SAN space, database access, network access)
  • Design decisions
  • Dealing with legacy code
  • Handling outsourcing, insourcing, consultants
  • Build-vs-buy
  • Vendor evaluations/score card; integrate the vendor's product into your own
  • Coordinate large-scale integration of many apps from different environments
  • Coordination among multiple product life cycles
  • Writing guidance docs
  • Code reviews
  • Occasional prototypes
  • Configuration

On one hand, these types of tasks require technical knowledge in that you wouldn't expect a non-technical person to perform them. On the other hand, they don't seem in the same category as hands-on coding.

What do you think - can you be technical (or remain technical) without actually writing code?

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