These are the people with the weight of the world on their shoulders.
I’ve seen lots of local government agencies that may have a central IT group, but departments have projects powered the lone solo developer, who at times has to do the work of a local IT group. I’ve talked to some developers that are the lone developer for a small business or special groups assigned to projects.
I’ve been there. I feel for you. I respect you.
I was at a conference a few years ago and I remember there was specifically a session for solo developers. I attended the session thinking it would be fairly empty. I was quite surprised at the time to see that it was well attended and many had the same experiences as myself.
People that may end up being the solo developer somewhere are typically thrust into the role, either out of necessity or sheer power of will. As a solopreneur, you also take on the role of sales, marketer, accountant, content creator!
Your mentors are the authors of the books you read. Your pair-programming is the assistance you get in online forums. Your code-review is the critique you may get from posting stackoverflow questions. It’s a difficult road to be sure, but could be quite rewarding if you approach it correctly.
You can attempt to do your projects in an Agile manner. Then you realize that you are the team lead, the team member, the product owner and in some cases a stakeholder. You adapt, you grow, you are blessed in the fire of the coding cthulu!
There are upsides to being a solo developer.
- You learn to work quickly
- You learn how to set up servers
- You learn how to set up databases
- You learn how to write server-side code
- You learn SQL
- You learn frontend development
- You learn how to work under pressure
- You learn how to communicate with stakeholders
- You learn some design (maybe, even if it’s not great, you learn how to make things usable)
- You learn how to learn
Being a solo developer isn’t easy. It can be a little stressful, but it can also be a great opportunity to learn so much. Not just in terms of programming, testing and QA, but also in terms of project management. You take on many more roles as a solo developer, so embrace it and use it as a way to enhance your own experience and skills.
Mad respect to the solo dev!