Craft Thinking

30 Nov 2017

A philosophical view of the Software Craft

We choose to think of Software Development as a Craft. Usually when we associate Software Craftsmanship with Code Quality and Agile (more specifically XP practices). That is a very narrow view. In fact Craftsmanship is about our innate desire to do a good job - there is a craftsman or craftswoman in all of us. This leads me to the question, what is the general philosophy behind craftsmanship and what does it mean specifically to software developers?

In his book, The Craftsman, Richard Sennet takes a philosophical view of craftsmanship through the ages in order to understand what happens when people try to do a good job. I will attempt to relate this view to Software Craftsmanship in particular. There are many lessons to glean from studying the history and philosophy of craftsmanship to answer the many questions that are relevant to our craft. For example; the struggle between practical and perfect, how do we achieve the right balance, the concept of "fractured skill" where we become only specialised in only a subset of the skills necessary to create the whole, the role of failure in learning, choosing the right tools and skills to learn? I will try to wet you appetite for exploring craftsmanship from a different perspective so that we can better understand Software Craftsmanship.

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