Be the worst

19 Jan 2007

So for about 2 months I’ve been working on this project with Clint Bishop and Nick Drew. Nick was the Project Manager/Tester/Technical lead and build guy. Clint and I were developers. Now that this project is being handed off to a new team (headed by Obie Fernandez), Clint and I have been working with developers other than each other. This is always a tricky thing because you have to justify the code you’ve written while working to make it better.

Even more interesting is that Clint and I are around the same level of Ruby/Rails experience while Obie and Zed (Shaw) are superstars. Not only do they have a long history in the Object Oriented field but they have been doing Ruby professionally for a while now.

Now I’ve been on a Rails project before and I’ve been messing with RoR for more than a year so I’m no chump, but I’m definitely behind the new guys. I was working with Zed for a few days last week and he’s just crazy fast. First of all, he has this behemoth HP laptop that has a tricked-out Linux distro with a custom window manager. Yep, he found a small window manager, got the source code, and tweaked it out. Also he’s a Vim dude. When he works it’s kind of an amazing montage of fast keystrokes, flipping through virtual desktops, and code appearing at an alarmingly fast rate. Then when we switch over to me driving, I fumble around in TextMate whilst he does a good job of not shouting “Faster!” ‘Cause, lets face it, he would have every right to.

A fair number of wise men advise programmers to find situations where you are the worst programmer in the room because that way you learn better. This is true – I’m learning a lot. But it’s a bit rough on your ego.

Now I shouldn’t feel bad, there’s probably only a handful of Ruby devs out there who wouldn’t feel nervous about their abilities after working with Obie and Zed, but its hard not to. It’s like when I was a first year teacher: I worked my ass off showing up early, staying late, obsessively planning my lesions only to see some 10 year vet teacher do it better and with less effort. It’ll come – I’ll get better. But until then I’ll just have to keep asking questions and saying affirmative phrases.