Programmers and temperaments

If you ever studied psychology then you are familiar with different types of the human temperaments. This term was first introduced by Claudius Galen but then widely used everywhere.

A few years back programmer’s “temperaments” definition was introduced…

Going through different blogs I have found the following entry which discuss types of the development processes seen in different organizations – do not take it seriously, but as you can see in every joke there is a bit of the truth.

And this reminded me about something from the past: definition of different types of programmers or programmer’s “temperaments”.
I have tried to find English version of it but did not succeed. Instead I found something different Code and Personality by Kevin Marks & Maf Vosburgh. Take a minute and read it.

… Let’s come back to the origin. I am trying put my translation for the list and therefore I am sorry if it has some errors (and please be free to point it out). Origin is old but lets give author a credit – J. Demner, “Veda a technika mladezi”.

There are actually several classes there. You can laugh or you can try to look around you and see how it fits.

From the point of view of the approach to work

  • “The puncher” – diligent handicraftsman in the best the sense of this word. He is working being guided by the rule of the carpenter – “measure ten times before the cut”. Programming for him is a fair craft. Every program is the same carefully made doors.
  • “The bohemian” – happens to be a comprehensive artist. Programming for him is a way of self-expression. They are full of colors and shine. Every program is a piece of art. But every program is the never ended symphony.
  • “The shooter” – sometimes  named “mad” – product of modern civilization. He looks at programming as constant fight and he has a just a weapon – his computer. Do not stay in his way…

From the point of the professional work

  • “The slave to routine” – he is a result of usual professional dullness. He does not enjoy seeing a result of his work. He does not experience every route his program runs on the computer, knowing that running around the table does not speedup pace of events. A new computer in his sights pleases him no more then a new kitchen sink. Thinks that he can program and it is usually true.
  • “The fan” – although he works in his field for 20 years, and he still remembers happy moments when he was compiler, puncher and operator at the time for his first IBM 1130 delivering historical results. He still have youthful excitement when his program is run on the computer and he is worried for every result it produces as he would for his child. Often considers himself not able to program, but it is appears to be not so bad.
  • “The layman” – in general, very happy person: admires and surprised by every moment. Computer is working! Computer is not working! It is sunny day! It is rainy! He always on the move, always doing something. He sees everything; nothing can pass his eye, nothing not his is not for him. He certain that he can program, but… as usual he is wrong.

From the point of temperament – did you read an article above?

  • “The phlegmatic” – his motto – “the best is your worst enemy”. He will not be worried if one week before the end of the project he finds out that if he start over it will be better. He knows that good ending is better then good beginning.
  • “The sanguine” – he is trembled by his inability to be satisfied. Lives in his programs. But until his programs are perfect he will have no sleep, so he never does… He differs by his vigorous activity and constant lack of sleep.
  • “The choleric” – never satisfied. Driven by the aspiration for total perfection, progressiveness and full achievement in everything and therefore constantly modifying already completed code and never completes uncompleted. When his project is questioned he considers it as impudence and not just a question about a project deadline… and then faints.

Off course there is never a true match. But consider this as your future employee (or otherwise):

  • The slave to routine phlegmatic puncher – usually recognized by his boss. Works with dedication and without the significant errors. If necessary can be a good accountant.
  • The sanguine bohemian fan – programmer which is hard to find. He has a “God’s spark”, keeps around a big group of assistants. If he will not die from the stroke, he is always ready to go to the mental clinic.
  • The choleric shooter/layman – known as “The active blockhead”. It does not matter what he is doing as programmer, he still doesn’t know what he is doing.

Look around and enjoy 😉

Russian version:

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One thought on “Programmers and temperaments”

  1. Just a friendly note to say that I spoke about your blog and sparked another line of thought on my own blog

    Thanks for some interesting insights.


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    From a junior developer through Sr Manager position, I was always interested in new technologies. Passionate speaker, IT junky, developer, architect, team lead, and development manager - many hats, one goal - making software better and being closer to people’s needs. For the most part I am using my blog as a scratch pad, writing small articles on things which I came across, was asked about more then once, and which would otherwise require additional research again and again.

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