It’s funny, being a weird blend of developer, manager, and marketer, how people perceive your abilities. I was reflecting on this when I was looking over both the Facebook Development Platform and some of my work at the Student Loan Network. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m a snack coder, a snack developer. In a world where video games are Hollywood-style productions with casting, special effects, and workforces greater than some investment firms, I’m the guy who can whip out Pong in an afternoon – but not much beyond that. Tetris, probably.
The thing is, for a lot of what I do – prototyping, idea generation and early implementation, experimentation – snack coding is exactly what’s called for. Create a wireframe, create a simple implementation as a proof of concept so we can decide to see if pouring scarce resources into a technology is a worthwhile investment or not. I’m the guy you want writing up that widget or wireframing the new web site, but I’m definitely not the guy to build you World of Warcraft or Second Life.
I used to think that I was an amateur compared to professional developers, but realized that I’m a snack builder, not a buffet chef. Both have their place in the ecosystem of development and marketing, and both can create a TON of value – just ask PopCap Games, developers of casual games like Zuma, Bejeweled, Heavy Weapon, and more. Sometimes you want to sit down for a major campaign battle, and sometimes, you just want to shoot at things for five minutes.
What’s your niche? Where do you operate best? Do you know? If you do, how did you find out?