I see a lot of devs in love with React, Redux, Node, … and so on. Ok, that's cool but how far does that take you? It’s pure technology.
What about software engineering, architecture, principles, design patterns, best practices, testing, etc?
Here's where cross-knowledge or vertical and horizontal knowledge come into play.
Let's keep knowledge as a broad concept that involves learning and experience.
Regarding vertical... for instance, you can know more or less of different technologies, you can be an expert in React and Redux, and you can also be a beginner in HTML, CSS and Sass. The greater or lesser amount of knowledge you have in these specific subjects is what defines your vertical knowledge.
So vertical means the depth of your knowledge in a particular thing. The more knowledge you have in the subject, the greater your vertical in that specific area.
Now what about horizontal?
The process of learning and gaining knowledge that is applicable across various domains, scenarios, and technologies is what we would call “horizontal knowledge”.
Horizontal knowledge means PURE Software Engineering, it means depth in Design and Architecture.
When you combine both vertical and horizontal knowledge, that's what makes "The Plus".
So, if at the moment you find yourself in love with various technologies — React, Redux, TypeScript, etc — it is time to also start taking on board software engineering principles, such as Design Patterns, Best Practices, etc and adding these horizontal elements to your coding practice. This will improve your "cat's eyes" (|)(|) into "lion's eyes" (+)(+).
If you do this, you will see further, and you will also gain intuition: you will detect "patterns", you will gain more ways of thinking that you can apply in more than one scenario. You will be able to continue to develop code, but do it with more care, in a different, “wider”, way. Your code will follow a different mindset, a higher projection.
For me, I see this as the difference between "coding just for yourself" vs. "coding for me, my colleagues and my company". When you work for a company, your code is part of a collective thing, the company, a project, and that's not something to be taken lightly. It involves a lot of responsibility.
Thus, when you code both horizontally as well as vertically — taking into account not only the latest and greatest technologies, but also fundamental software engineering principles — not only do you gain, but the company you work for gains as well: maintainability, reusability, efficiency, scalability — as well as the ability to take a “big picture” approach to your development — all add value to your code.
When you work on CSS, for instance, applying composition through Sass and BEM, you can use that knowledge of composition when composing with React. Or when you are engineering the business logic on a client and server architecture for an SPA consuming an API, you can notice that both sides require analogous Separation of Concerns, projection through layers, testing... etc, etc, etc.
Everybody gains: you, your mates, and the company.
So, this is it. Do not settle for being simply a master in technologies, push yourself to go further, learn Software Engineering, Design and Architecture, and add both the vertical and horizontal knowledge to your daily practice. All in all it's also a question of improving, a question of attitude. Be a plus: work as a Developer, think like an Engineer. Be a PRO dev!
- 20181124: spelling and expression corrections
- 20181127: text improvements (thank you, Robert Anthony! ,)