What makes a senior engineer? Writing software vs building systems
A lot of ink has been spilt over the years trying to elucidate the divide between junior and senior. Miłosz Piechocki makes the distinction this way:
Junior Engineers care about writing Software. They value code quality, employ best practices, try to adopt cutting-edge technologies. They invest a lot of time into learning new technologies. To them, the ultimate goal is to create elegant, performant, maintainable software.
Senior Engineers care about building Systems. To them, creating software is just one of the steps. First of all, they question whether the software needs to be built in the first place. They ask what problems would it solve and why it’s important to solve them. They inquire who will be using the software and on what scale. They think about where the software would run and how they’re going to monitor whether it’s working properly. They also decide how to measure whether the software is actually solving the problems it was supposed to solve.
He goes on to describe how hard it is to build Systems and lists activities that are part of that process.