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The Evolution of Development and Coding

Moving from test-driven development to observability-driven development.

I had the opportunity to catch up with Andi Grabner, DevOps Activist at Dynatrace during day two of Dynatrace Perform. I've know Andi for seven years and he's one of the people that has helped me understand DevOps since I began writing for DZone.

We covered several topics that I'll share in a series of posts.

Do developers want to expand beyond just coding?

There will always be developers that just want to code and do what they're told. They're great at coding and that's perfect. But I think everyone that creates something, including developers are creative engineers. I think it's in every human's interest to see the impact they have with what they create. The impact can only be seen if that piece of code gets into the hands of the beneficiary. It could be an end user, it could be a third party that is calling an API. In order to know if the beneficiary is actually getting the value out of the code, you need observability.

I think we have the obligation to actually educate engineers to think about how can you create something that makes a positive impact on society. How can you get insights on your code in a fast feedback loop?

In the end, if I'm a developer, and I just write code, I never know if what I'm creating actually has any impact. This is a really boring life.

When I spoke to Kelsey Hightower last year, he told me a story about when he was working for a company. They were managing SNAP payments for grocery stores. If this system goes down and the family's SNAP card is declined, people do not eat. Developers and engineers need to know when something bad is happening. That should be the the main motivation. Put observability in to figure out if the stuff they are building has the desired impact. In this case the desired impact is that everybody can purchase food when they need it.

If I'm an artist, I want to know, if anybody likes my painting. I would probably look into the museum to see if people actually stopped by or don't stop at my painting, it's the same thing. I want to know if my code reaches the right people, and if it has the desired effect, because if not, if nobody looks at it, maybe I'm just wasting my time.

We need to educate developers, because over the last 15 to 20 years, we educated them to evolve from just coding to to test-driven development. I think now it's about observability-driven development. So whatever you do whatever you build, you need to have observability in mind, because if you cannot observe the impact that you have with the software, then you're just flying blind.


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