Why emojis could make you a better software developer
Vatsal Patel / January 09, 2022
4 min read • ––– views
As software engineers we tend to write a lot, whether that be through code, comments or conversations in pull requests. Writing is an often overlooked skill in a software developer. I'm not talking about writing with beautiful words, captivating metaphors or becoming the next Shakespeare. I'm talking about the ability to communicate with the right emotions through a simple writing style. Using simple words and sentences but being clear about your meaning and intention. As a coder I've realised that expanding my UTF-8 vocabulary has been more useful than memorising the dictionary!
Pull requests are the bread and butter of a software developer. In good engineering teams, it’s where knowledge sharing happens, technical decisions are challenged and ideas are openly discussed.
When I first started reviewing pull requests I was naturally shy and thought my comments would not be worthy. Over time I gained confidence by understanding the codebase and the technologies used by our team. I gradually started to ask why the author chose certain ways of doing things. "Why did you choose to extract that specific code into a function and not the rest? What is the benefit of using a new library instead of writing the logic ourselves?" I also started to highlight things I thought would cause us pain in the future. Eventually I was brimming with so much confidence that I even started rejecting pull requests (don't worry I'm not addicted, yet)!
Anyone that knows me well knows that I love a good debate and form strong opinions but I have never let them get personal. I value my relationships more than winning debates. At work the points and questions I raised were (mostly) all useful and worth raising but I started to get a feeling that I was coming across a bit big-headed. I spoke directly with my team members to address this, which helped considerably, but I still couldn't help the feeling of lacking something.
That’s when I received an invaluable piece of advice from my manager. He suggested I start using emojis in my writing, especially in pull requests; he told me to sprinkle in some 😀s and 🚀s in my comments. I had observed emojis being used by others but I never thought much of it.
So I began to use emojis in my pull requests. (Auto)Magically, my comments and suggestions seemed to come across a lot more friendly and warm. The 😀 at the end of a suggestion comforted the receiver that although I was questioning his/her thinking, I was trying to help. On the other hand, adding 🚀 and 👌 next to praises about great work made them feel more genuine and uplifting. Supplementing (sometimes difficult) questions with 🤔 gave a tone of curiosity that I could never achieve before. Eventually I got feedback from my peers that they enjoyed my reviews and were grateful for the questions I raised since it saved them extra work in the long term 🎉.
Since then, using emojis has become a crucial part of my software engineering toolkit 🛠 and has started to creep into other aspects of my life too!
My current go-to emojis are
- Smile 😀
- Ok 👌 (I like to call this 'perfect' in my head)
- Thinking 🤔
- Eyes 👀
- Thumbs up 👍
- Rocket 🚀
I would love to know your thoughts on using emojis as a software engineer, so please reach out using any of the social networks below. Also feel free to share this post with your friends!