How To Be A Great Developer

Short Form


Being a great developer is much more than technical know-how. Empathy, communication, and reason are at least as important, but are undervalued in our industry. We'll examine the impact these skills can have and how to apply them to our work.


As developers, we usually focus on technical know-how as the measure of our ability. The best of us come up with solutions more quickly; solve harder and more complex problems; knows their language and platform intimately. That stuff is all useful, but I think we’re measuring the wrong criteria. Technical competence is important, but at least as important is our ability to empathize, communicate, and reason beyond popular opinion. If we want to be great developers, we must value those skills just as highly as coding chops, because we need them to anticipate and solve our user’s problems. In this talk, we’ll examine why these non-technical skills have such an impact on us as developers, and how to apply them to our work.


empathy, skills, soft-skills, communication, teamwork, users

Speaking experience

I've spoken at numerous conferences in the past several years, including:

Open Source Bridge
SXSW Interactive
Adobe MAX
Madison Ruby
True North PHP
Lone Star PHP
PHP Community Conference


  • Edfinkler pensive

    Edward Finkler

    Funkatron Productions


    With over 15 years of passionate web development experience and open source advocacy, Ed Finkler loves empowering people through technology. He’s excited about creating things and sharing them with the world.

    He served as web lead and security researcher at The Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security (CERIAS) at Purdue University for 9 years. More recently, he has been helping startup teams build exciting e-commerce, social sharing, and mapping systems. He’s a proud member of the Fictive Kin team, working on Done Not Done, Gimme Bar, and lots of other cool stuff.

    Ed spends much of his free time creating and working on open source projects such as Spaz, a long-running, award winning microblogging client. Ed also created the PHP libraries like FUnit, Resty.php, PHPSecInfo, and Inspekt.