5:01 Developer

Posted: August 29, 2007 in Uncategorized

A few months back I attended a talk given by a .Net friend of mine. Mr.Dotnetworkaholic aka Paul Lockwood at the local chapter of IASA. It was a 2 part talk. The first part was about project estimation and the second was about continuous integration (CI). I am digging CI. Paul mentioned the frustrations of working with 5:01 developers. That was the first time I had heard the term 5:01 developer. A 5:01 developer is one who bolts out the door at 1 minute past 5pm. They are “outta here”. Recently while browsing some blog posts I follow, the term came up again. 5:01 developer. That got me thinking.

Is being a 5:01 developer bad? Not all 5:01 developers are “typical” 5:01 developers. I think I am a 5:01 developer. I need to be out by 5:15pm to get back to my daughter and be able to spend any meaningful “quality time” with her. Can I stay back and do more. Yes. There is never an end to stuff that can be done at work. But I got to stop at some point and “get on with life”. Life as a software developer, be it .Net or Java or Ruby, is becoming more and more hectic. 24 hours are just not enough. Am I doing something wrong? Am I not running fast? I love technology and developing software systems. But of late, I am getting tired of coding yet another list box. How long can one do it? What is the right career path? How can you continue to do what you love and yet not be overwhelmed by the relentless march of technology?

How does Scott Hanselman do it? He says he sleeps less. I cannot function properly without at least 6 hours of good sleep. Scott can do so many things, it just makes you wonder if he is human at all. He posts to his blog regularly, has time to record Hanselminutes, research and work with tools, keep his day job, find time to respond to every comment on his blog and yet still spend quality time with his family. I constantly evaluate my daily processes and try to shave a few minutes where possible. I wake up at 5am. 20 minutes of exercise, shave, shower, breakfast and by the time I get ready to leave it’s 7am. With the way Atlanta traffic is, you got to time your departure precisely. 5 minutes later, and it’s going to cascade and you end up arriving at work 15 minuter later than if you had left 5 minuites earlier. If I dont time it precisely, I get stuck behind a school bus.

Take this rising star in Bangalore. He says he codes till 4am. I can’t do that. Not at this point in my life. When I started out more than 10 years ago, at Infosys, we used to work overnight to complete tasks. I just can’t do it anymore. So how do you compete with such opinionated, smart, young software developers. Become a Software Architect? This developer says he does not want to be an architect. I would love to continue to code. But then for how long? What am I going to do when younger folks who can code till 4am come in?

Maybe it’s time to become a PHB.

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Comments
  1. Scott, I rest my case. You are not human. You picked up on a blog posting on an obscure blog, read the entire posting, posted a thoughtful response even though vox forced you to create a login, patiently completed the response when vox truncated your first response and then followed it up with a blog post of your own. WOW! Scott how do you do it? That is an expression, rather than a question. Which makes me ask – Are some people just wired different, better? Intel 8086 v/s Core 2 Duo? How did this wiring come about? Nature or Nurture? Can one re-wire onself? Makes me wonder.

    Thanks Scott.

  2. Sidu, Thank you for your comments. I am sorry you had to join vox just to post a comment. I am trying to figure out how to disable the “feature”. I cant understand why vox has to force people to join it. If vox is compelling, people will happily join. Keep up the high quality posts on your blog. Nice work. I picked up your blog via thoughtblogs.

  3. Heh. That’s silly. (It did suck to create a Vox login just to comment…I almost left at the point). Maybe I just enjoy what I do and read fast? ;)

  4. Sidu says:

    Thanks, Ramesh. Incidentally, I’m experiencing second level slashdot effect, thanks to Scott linking to your post. My daily traffic average just increased by 100% :-).

  5. When I come up with the term 5:01 developer I wasn’t trying to imply that time spent at work equaled commitment or productivity…although, that’s a pretty weak statement from me considering that the term uses time to make it’s point. ;)

    What I was railing against by the term was the person whose enthusiam turns off at 5:01pm. I have to pick up my son also. I take him to school every day…and that’s the way it should be.

    I certainly can’t code until 4am either, my old hands won’t take it. Hell, I code with braces on both hands now.

    I’m just staying that I prefer to work with folks who are enthusiastic about the craft. Folks whose brains don’t turn off at 5:01pm.

  6. Sidu says:

    [this is good]It’s funny, this is is the second time this is happening. I’d complained about what I call the 9-to-5 developer in a post and had to explain myself (see comments) in much the same way Scott just did. It’s just so frustrating to work with people who don’t care, for whom writing code is just another job.
    And the reason I can stay up until 4 writing code is simple. I enjoy doing it; and I’m not married. I know that once I am, my priorities will change, no two ways about it. And that’s just fine. :-)

  7. [...] is silly Thanks to super developer Scott Hanselman picking up my previous blog post and linking it in his blog post I have been exposed, I mean, my blog post has been read many people. [...]

  8. Joe F says:

    [this is good]Ramesh,

    This was a great post.

  9. [...] If you listen carefully, you can sense Scott being very cautious when talking about Microsoft. He says Microsoft has been, indirectly paying his mortgage. I identify myself as a .Net Web Developer and I don’t apologize for that. Like Scott, I too have benefited from using Microsoft Technologies. Yes, there are short comings, things can be better, but then I am not a basher. I am looking at and trying to indulge in alternatives. But then I am just another 5:01 Developer. [...]

  10. Sorry for the late reply

    To me a 5:01 dev is not literal, I use the term because it is pretty funny to talk about people having their 501 Jeans on.. wait for blank looks and then explain the gag :)

    Working long hours in unsustainable. On several projects I have seen average, but ambitious, coders pull regular 80 hours weeks, only for their code to never go live because they created a defect quagmire.

  11. Paul,
    Thanks for your comment. I agree that working long hours is not sustainable. But time and again this repeats. Everytime we live through a long release, and swear never again, we end up in the same boat. Could it be because of all the “5:01 Developers” on the team whose code does not even compile and the alphas have to stay around and fix it?

  12. I wish I could be a 5:01 developer, but if I was, nothing would get done around here! Most days I’m a 10:32 developer.

  13. Casey says:

    I’m a 5:01 developer for 3 very good reasons …

    1) I work to live, not the other way around
    2) I adhere to the XP tennent of a 40 hour week, I know I am far less productive and even possibly harmful beyond a reasonable length week. And I am a better developer for knowing that.
    3) According to certain studies, the optimum working week is 16 hours (see Joel On Software), and to some extent I would agree that my most productive time is probably only 2-3 hours a day.

  14. [...] The busiest day of the year was October 18th with 106 views. The most popular post that day was 5:01 Developer. [...]

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  18. […] Ramesh Sringeri¬†has a great post about the 5:01 developer. He heard the term from Paul Lockwood¬†who used it in a talk recently. […]

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