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Daniel Irvine on building software

I am a software craftsman

6 March 2015

Do you identify as a software craftsman?

I posed this question to an audience at the recent SoCraTes gathering in Tenerife, where people from all over Europe came to discuss craftsmanship. I asked for a show of hands of those who identify as a software craftsman. I had expected the room to light up enthusiastically but fewer than half of the audience members raised their hands, and most of those did it reluctantly.

Software craftsmanship is many things to many people, but to me it is an evangelical pursuit. Software craftsmen want the software industry to be better than it is. We want to change, not just ourselves but everyone involved in the creation of software.

Many vegetarians say that it is not the refusal to eat meat that is most important to them. What’s most important is the spreading of their message to others, in an attempt to better the world. I can’t help but notice the parallel with software craftsmanship. Like any sort of evangelism, craftsmanship is a strong message that is often met with scepticism and derision. For some of us, that makes it hard to admit to being a craftsman. We’re often afraid of being judged.

If you believe in the values of craftsmanship, call yourself a craftsman. Be proud of what you believe in and tell people at every opportunity. Don’t feel ashamed because the only shame is in hiding your beliefs. When people ask you what you do, tell them you’re a software craftsman and explain what being a craftsman means to you.

I am very lucky to work for an organization that gave me the job title of Software Craftsman. You may not be so lucky, but don’t be afraid to use the term.

About the author

Daniel Irvine is a software craftsman at 8th Light, based in London. These days he prefers to code in Clojure and Ruby, despite having been a C++ and C# developer for the majority of his career.

For a longer bio please see To contact Daniel, send a tweet to @d_ir or use the comments section below.

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