I change the directions of small pieces of metal for a living.

Are you a better programmer than you were two years ago?

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Two years ago, I was working on a fairly complicated (for my level of experience) web app for posting news articles. Quite a few times, I ran into situations where I was about to create tight coupling between two somewhat unrelated parts of my app. Sometimes, I wouldn’t even recognize this as a problem. Other times, I would, but not be able to think of an easy fix, so I’d continue on.

Today, I find myself fixing tightly-coupled situations almost instinctively. I use design patterns that I was barely aware of two years ago, and I do it without straying into “design pattern fever” territory. This isn’t to say I’m an expert at software design; it still takes a lot of thought to actually think of the best fix, and I’m sure I still make plenty of mistakes. My point is, my growth as a programmer is very obvious to me in these situations.

How about you? If you’ve been programming for more than two years, you’re probably a better programmer than you were two years ago, but can you tell? If so, how can you tell? Can you give any good examples of moments when you realized it?