What is a Code Kata?

Knowledge is of no value unless you put it into practice.
Anton Chekhov

Working with many technical professionals I see interesting ways employers screen talent. Many companies will ask developers to whiteboard a solution. Some will have them pair with another developer and see how they work together and if they have the basics. Another way to some companies try to determine development proficiency is using Code Katas.

What is a Code Kata?

Similar to the way in which musicians develop their skills by practice. The coding kata is a means of practicing to solve problems in software development. You receive feedback on how you can improve the next time. As they point out here, “Code Kata is an attempt to bring this element of practice to software development. A kata is an exercise in karate where you repeat a form many, many times, making little improvements in each.”

Repetition

Bruce Lee said, “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” As software developers, we tend to lean toward the former not the later. The fact that I have done many things once is a wide range of experience. Although I would not call this mastery. That is what Bruce Lee is getting at. There are many sites out there now like CodeWars where you can practice these Katas and compete with other developers.

Effective?

Code Katas are not universally loved though. As John Sonmez points out here they might not be as effective as we think. ” just as walking every single day doesn’t make you a master walker, and driving a car every day doesn’t make you a superior driver, solving the same sets of programming problems over and over again won’t make you a master programmer.” I see his points that we need to vary the problems we are solving a bit. Similar to real-world programming. The marketing department wants to track new information so we modify the website and mobile applications to collect that data.

We have discussed a different way of learning and enhancing your development skills. Perhaps you and your team can start using code katas to evaluate your candidates that want to join your team. You could be in John Sonmez camp and think they are not as helpful. Either way, I can see it being a valuable tool for those hunting for a job to prep for code screening.

Originally posted on MyITCareerCoach.com

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