Apple's Craig Federighi offers aspiring programmer advice for the future

Posted:
in General Discussion edited February 2020
Apple SVP of Software Engineering Craig Federighi has offered some advice to an aspiring programmer in an email, with the Apple executive advising to keep studying, become an expert, broaden their horizons, and to follow their heart.

Apple's Craig Federighi at the 2019 WWDC
Apple's Craig Federighi at the 2019 WWDC


A post to Reddit on Saturday revealed Federighi is willing to write at length about life advance when asked in an email. A screenshot of a message sent to user "Aedengeo" reveals his response to being asked if he had advice for young people aspiring to become a programmer at a company like Apple.

Federighi's response starts off highlighting that there are "many different roads to this destination," before offering suggestions of ideas that "were important" to him. Dedicating time to study while at University is offered first, due to there being "so much knowledge available to you," and urging to "take advantage of this special opportunity."

The need to "go broad and deep" suggest the need to be an expert in "your area of specialization" but also to look for inspiration from other disciplines. "Engineering and design are team activities, so find opportunities to continue your development in written and spoken communication," proposes the SVP.

The need to "work with great people" is raised, as well as the general advice to "Follow your heart." Federighi notes he was "forced to choose between options that looked good 'on paper' (i.e. to my analytical mind) and opportunities that 'felt right.' Listening to my heart ultimately paid off in ways I couldn't have anticipated at the time."

He also thanks the writer for his thoughts and suggestions about iOS 14.

Federighi, along with other major personalities in Apple, often write to users who send email-based questions. In September, two emails purportedly from Federighi claimed there would be the addition of the lyrics visualizer to the main Apple Music player in iOS 13.1, as well as offering thoughts on iMessage scheduling.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 24
    philboogiephilboogie Posts: 7,671member
    Bladiebla. I'd rather read up on the writers' thoughts and suggestions about iOS 14.

  • Reply 2 of 24
    loekfloekf Posts: 41member
    More importantly, which advice did he give on keeping your hair in good shape. No software developer should neglect his or her hair.
    randominternetpersonchasmfastasleeplolliverJWSCFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 3 of 24
    Always look forward to his WWDC presentation. He seems to be a sincere, genuine engineer and manager.
    chasmmacxpressMacQcnewBelieversteveauPickUrPoisonStrangeDaysuraharalolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 24
    My advice: Don't code for Mac OS and iOS if you want to "follow your heart". Apple will get in your way at every turn with their byzantine rules, lack of necessary SDK and lack of respect for its own customers freedom to use their computers and smart devices in any way they wish.
    lkruppObbopjdwFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 5 of 24
    My advice: Don't code for Mac OS and iOS if you want to "follow your heart". Apple will get in your way at every turn with their byzantine rules, lack of necessary SDK and lack of respect for its own customers freedom to use their computers and smart devices in any way they wish.
    Good advice.  No one ever made any money (or any world-changing apps) coding for iOS.  Obviously iOS is a fad.
    chasmrotateleftbytelkruppfastasleepmatrix077MacQcnewBelieversteveauStrangeDaysSpamSandwich
  • Reply 6 of 24
    I hope Mr. Ferengi copy and pasted this response.  He must get asked this a lot, and I hate to think he's spending 20 minutes answering this question each time.  Or perhaps he has an intern to do this for him.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 24
    If you're a US college student, follow your heart to a better career path. If you don't, you will eventually be proudly training your H1B replacement.
    edited October 2019 chasmrotateleftbyteObbopmobirdjimh2lkrupprazorpitFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 8 of 24
    chasmchasm Posts: 2,339member
    My advice: Don't code for Mac OS and iOS if you want to "follow your heart". Apple will get in your way at every turn with their byzantine rules, lack of necessary SDK and lack of respect for its own customers freedom to use their computers and smart devices in any way they wish.
    Oh yeah, none of that ever happens anywhere else.

    A bad programmer blames his frameworks.
    lkruppmacplusplus1stStrangeDaysuraharalolliverCarnagewatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 24
    auxioauxio Posts: 2,243member
    My advice: Don't code for Mac OS and iOS if you want to "follow your heart". Apple will get in your way at every turn with their byzantine rules, lack of necessary SDK and lack of respect for its own customers freedom to use their computers and smart devices in any way they wish.
    Makes sense. You can make a fortune developing apps for Linux!  😂
    fastasleepmatrix0771stStrangeDaysIreneWSpamSandwichrandominternetpersonuraharalolliverrazorpit
  • Reply 10 of 24
    chasm said:

    A bad programmer blames his frameworks.
    A bad programmer uses too many frameworks.
    A bad programmer cut/pastes from answers on the internet.

    Being a good programmer takes time, patience and a whole load of mistakes (to be learned from)
    It does not happen overnight.
    When I think back to some of the code I was writing when I was in my 20's, I shudder. It was really bad. Yes it worked but was sloppy and often unmaintainable. This is natural IMHO. If you keep at it and think for yourself rather than just using a one thing from a framework because is it easy then improvement will happen. Practice makes perfect.

    But... TBH, I would not recommend anyone to consider IT including Software Development as a career. As has been mentioned the bean counters will be sending almost all the jobs overseas.
  • Reply 11 of 24
    bigtdsbigtds Posts: 167member
    Become a lawyer instead. There's more money in suing Apple.
    razorpitFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 12 of 24
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 5,287member
    My advice: Don't code for Mac OS and iOS if you want to "follow your heart". Apple will get in your way at every turn with their byzantine rules, lack of necessary SDK and lack of respect for its own customers freedom to use their computers and smart devices in any way they wish.
    Sorry your app failed. 
    PickUrPoisonStrangeDaysuraharalolliverrazorpitwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 24
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 5,287member

    I hope Mr. Ferengi copy and pasted this response.  He must get asked this a lot, and I hate to think he's spending 20 minutes answering this question each time.  Or perhaps he has an intern to do this for him.
    At least one other person in the Reddit thread has received a personal response clearly written for the recipient. And what do you care what Federighi does in his free time? Ferengi? Maybe you need to watch less Star Trek with yours. 
    PickUrPoisonStrangeDaysrazorpitwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 24
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,523member
    My advice: Don't code for Mac OS and iOS if you want to mooch of the work of others and have a belief that everything provided for you to sell and market your apps should be free and provided at no cost.   Apple believes that marketing your apps, distributing your apps, providing all the logistics and security of purchasing your apps, and providing the tools to develop your apps, and allowing you to sell your apps at a price you believe is fair, all for a nominal cost.  Apple's belief that user privacy and security should be the upmost priority. 
    Fixed that for you, you entitled wannabe "developer".
    StrangeDayslolliverh2prazorpitwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 24
    jdwjdw Posts: 937member
    A highly general response, short on specifics, that only made the news because big company executives tend to be too lofty to speak directly to the common man:

    https://imgur.com/Crm5PkG

    It's nice to see Federighi speaks to normal people, but honestly, he doesn't say anything we don't already know.  The most amusing part is that Tim Cook has said a college degree isn't necessary to work at Apple, but obviously that must be a janitorial job because Federighi makes a very strong case for college study.  I myself have an EE degree but I suspect I would have a struggle getting a job at Apple.

    All said, a lot of young students who are aspiring programmers may find themselves seriously disappointed if their goal is to work at Apple headquarters.  An Apple store, sure, but a programmer at the headquarters?  We need a long more specifics on how that is accomplished, but I suspect that internships and "who you know" have a lot to do with getting hired full time there.
    dewme
  • Reply 16 of 24
    jdwjdw Posts: 937member
    My advice: Don't code for Mac OS and iOS if you want to "follow your heart". Apple will get in your way at every turn with their byzantine rules, lack of necessary SDK and lack of respect for its own customers freedom to use their computers and smart devices in any way they wish.
    Unlike the two merciless attack dogs (and all the forum lurkers who clicked Like on their silly posts) who chastised you without any good reason at all, I wish to thank you for sharing your experience.  "Lack of respect" is a fundamental human flaw, especially seen in this forum.

    If you don't mind my asking, what was your app?  (I take it something related to the outdoors, but I was wondering about specifics.)  Also, what "SDK" did you seek above and beyond Xcode?

    Thanks.
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 17 of 24
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 11,154member
    My advice: Don't code for Mac OS and iOS if you want to "follow your heart". Apple will get in your way at every turn with their byzantine rules, lack of necessary SDK and lack of respect for its own customers freedom to use their computers and smart devices in any way they wish.
    Dude, get a Dell and end the whining already. 
    lolliverFileMakerFellerwatto_cobrafastasleep
  • Reply 18 of 24
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,003member
    jdw said:
    A highly general response, short on specifics, that only made the news because big company executives tend to be too lofty to speak directly to the common man:

    https://imgur.com/Crm5PkG

    It's nice to see Federighi speaks to normal people, but honestly, he doesn't say anything we don't already know.  The most amusing part is that Tim Cook has said a college degree isn't necessary to work at Apple, but obviously that must be a janitorial job because Federighi makes a very strong case for college study.  I myself have an EE degree but I suspect I would have a struggle getting a job at Apple.

    All said, a lot of young students who are aspiring programmers may find themselves seriously disappointed if their goal is to work at Apple headquarters.  An Apple store, sure, but a programmer at the headquarters?  We need a long more specifics on how that is accomplished, but I suspect that internships and "who you know" have a lot to do with getting hired full time there.
    A college degree means little these days. My oldest son is director of engineering (structural) at his company. In interviews with potential new hires (straight out of college with engineering degrees in hand) he submits basic engineering problems to solve during the interview process. He told me I’d be surprised by how many prospects are unable to complete the tasks. I assume it’s the same with coding or hardware engineering. You may have the piece of paper that says you know how to do it but to actually do it you need some inborn talent and ability. As for Apple headquarters I assume only the best of the best wind up there anyway, degree or not. Same goes for Google and the rest I would suppose. And of course whenever we hear from a “former” software engineer who worked at Apple it’s usually a diatribe about how bad things were when, in reality, that former employee couldn’t do the job they were hired for. Again, I’m sure this is the case at any company. Those who can... do. Those who can’t... bitch and whine aboout how bad things were.
    edited October 2019 lolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 24
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,341member
    jdw said:
    My advice: Don't code for Mac OS and iOS if you want to "follow your heart". Apple will get in your way at every turn with their byzantine rules, lack of necessary SDK and lack of respect for its own customers freedom to use their computers and smart devices in any way they wish.
    Unlike the two merciless attack dogs (and all the forum lurkers who clicked Like on their silly posts) who chastised you without any good reason at all, I wish to thank you for sharing your experience.  "Lack of respect" is a fundamental human flaw, especially seen in this forum.

    If you don't mind my asking, what was your app?  (I take it something related to the outdoors, but I was wondering about specifics.)  Also, what "SDK" did you seek above and beyond Xcode?

    Thanks.

    I think there was a lot of truth in what he said which is why some attacked him.   Apple's vision of computing is very narrow.   Tim Cook has repeatedly said "The iPad is our clearest expression about the future of computing".    What?   Hard pass.    I love the iPad for what it is...a bridge between a full fledged OS like Mac OS and mobile devices.   

    One of the problems I see with closed systems like Apple's is that the more exciting stuff that I've seen is coming through a browsers.    From Airtable to Notion.so to Milanote. Figma and much more.    I wouldn't tell a developer to follow their heart as your livelihood depends on common sense which means following their brains.    Web standards means no one company controls your future and thus this is why the demand is for platform agnostic applications and services despite the fact that software through a browser is orders of magnitude slower in latency and throughput as compared to local CPU/Storage/RAM.    It amazes when you consider how poorly performing today's executable software is. 

    In the short term I'm excited about Apple's transition to ARM, the leveraging of UltraWideband and Machine Learning improvements.  I'm less concerned with toys like VR, AR and hopeful about speech to text. 

    Really excited about the potential of RISC Five  as a democratizing element in ISA and hardware and single board computers.   The next decade is going to either be great or devastating for current vendors depending on how they manage the transition and I believe development is also going to keep skewing towards agnosticism.  


    FileMakerFellerphilboogie
  • Reply 20 of 24
    jdw said:
    My advice: Don't code for Mac OS and iOS if you want to "follow your heart". Apple will get in your way at every turn with their byzantine rules, lack of necessary SDK and lack of respect for its own customers freedom to use their computers and smart devices in any way they wish.
    Unlike the two merciless attack dogs (and all the forum lurkers who clicked Like on their silly posts) who chastised you without any good reason at all, I wish to thank you for sharing your experience.  "Lack of respect" is a fundamental human flaw, especially seen in this forum.

    If you don't mind my asking, what was your app?  (I take it something related to the outdoors, but I was wondering about specifics.)  Also, what "SDK" did you seek above and beyond Xcode?

    Thanks.

    I think there was a lot of truth in what he said which is why some attacked him.   ...
    Do you live in upside-down world?  You're suggesting that people "attacking" a post is evidence that it must have a "lot of truth"?  Because no one ever posts to dispute a post they actually disagree with because it's mostly nonsense?

    Apple doesn't "get in your way" as a developer with "byzantine rules."  They are very clear about what's acceptable and what isn't.  Apple prohibits some things on their platform, but 99% of the available innovation space is wide open.  If following your heart requiring that you have low level access to all elements of the OS and hardware, then yes, I wouldn't recommend iOS development.  But I imagine that relatively few hearts will lead people that way.

    Lack of "necessary SDK"?  Apple rolls out new powerful SDK components every year.  Thousands (millions?) of developers, large and small, seem to have no trouble developing apps without these "necessary" things.  I wonder how they manage that.

    Lack of "respect" for customers who want to hack their hardware?  No they just aren't in the hobbiest business.  See above if your heart happens to lead you that direction.  But ultimately if you want a robust platform to seamlessly reach hundreds of millions of iOS users, it's not a bad idea to make iOS development part of one's repertoire.
    lolliverh2pFileMakerFellerwatto_cobrafastasleep
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