The Doer, Planner, and other Programming Personalities

Your personality says a lot about you and how you react to the world. Several months back I found a programmer personality test that will describe how you like to program. Today, I decided to take it again to see how I’ve changed.

Originally I took it along with all the other programmers where I worked, and the results were valid. The guy who loved writing tight data structures in C was a “Low Level” programmer and the one who stringed 10 function calls on a single line to save space ended up being “Conservative”.

Both times, I came up as DHSB. Not a bad type for a freelance programmer:

  • Doer – I would rather get the general idea of a feature and then dig into the code. Most plans change as you start implementing.
  • High level – I love Ruby and she loves me. I’ve been flirting with Common Lisp just to learn how it’s macros work.
  • Solo situation – I prefer to work on a solution by myself or with a few people. I’ve seen too many bad ideas result from large meetings.
  • Liberal – To help support my High level, I try to build up abstractions in my code to make it easier on myself and my team. Since these are usually used by many people, I try to be extra clear so to prevent misunderstandings later.

I had my friend Peter Chester take it and he said this would be a good way to help decide who should work on a specific project. Got a prototype? You will want a Doer. Need an embedded driver for a cell phone? Low level is for you. Need a n-tier system? You will want a Team.

What personality type are you? Does it fit you?



  1. Joshua Clanton - Design for th says:

    I came out as DHSB too. Though I don’t know how reliable the test would be, given how long its been since I did anything with a real programming language.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hey Eric,

    I did this test back in june, and got DHSC as a result. Same as you guys but with the last letter saying:

    “You are a Conservative programmer.
    The less code you write, the less chance there is of it containing a bug. You write short and to the point code that gets the job done efficiently.”

    I think this test is one of the most reliable out there. Well, I don’t have any data to back this thought up, but at least my results match my preferences perfectly, Doer and Solo being the most important ones.

  3. Mark Wilden says:

    Does anyone really need to take a test to know whether they like programming device drivers? Whether they like to program alone or in a group? Whether they’re heavy commenters or the lean-and-mean type?

    Plus, there were at least three questions where I strongly disagreed with both answers. :)


  4. edavis10 says:

    Joshua: I think it applies to design as well, both skills require critical thinking and creativity.

    Jarkko: The Doer and Solo are my most important traits also.

    Mark: If we look at the results for right now, it’s pretty oblivous. But what if we look back, say 2 years ago. Have we changed since then?

    I was looking for a third answer on some also but I think the author left it out to keep the test simple. I would be interested to know what questions you disagreed with.


  5. Mark Wilden says:

    Looking back over the test, I suppose in most cases I too would have liked a third answer. The answers were just too extreme, so I was forced to choose a response that “bad” programmers would also choose. For example, I think both “shutting the door and the rest of the world out” AND “sharing a desk with a peer and having group meetings often” are terrible ways to program.


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