How do developers develop? A lesson in German and etymology

How do developers develop? A lesson in German and etymology

  • Posted by Gerhard Pramhas
  • On 27. March 2019


In this blog post from last October, I focused on the topic of training and education, examining options ranging from apprenticeship to a degree from an FH (university of applied sciences) and outlining four paths to becoming an engineer, the “developer” of the company. But what about the people who just can’t imagine themselves going down one of these four paths? What can they do if they still want to work creatively as developers? And what prevents potential developers from taking one of these paths in the first place? Join in the discussion!

What is a developer?

Let’s start by taking a very literal look at the German word for developer, “Entwickler”. If you separate the word into its prefix and root, (“ent-” and “-wickeln”), the word develop quite literally means to unwrap or unpack. When we look at it this way, the meaning of the word immediately takes on an interesting twist. It implies that the solution to a problem is available, but it is packaged in a way that makes it invisible to us. The developer must now unwrap this solution from the packaging and, in the process, he creates a new product. The developer is thus an “Ent-wickler” or shall we say, an “un-wrapper” in the truest sense of the word and unpacks solutions that were previously wrapped up and hidden from public view. But what skills does a developer need to do this work?

What does it take to be someone who unwraps and unpacks?

Keeping in mind the image we just sketched, there are some very intriguing prerequisites that a developer must fulfil. First and foremost, a developer needs a healthy dose of creativity. The developer must see the solution in his mind’s eye and must be able to imagine that the solution is already in front of him and that it only needs to be unpacked. Besides a generous portion of creativity, he also needs the necessary knowledge about the technology that he works with. This knowledge includes some pretty dry engineering subjects such as mechanics, mathematics, physics, chemistry, as well as various subjects in computer science. Yes, these subjects are necessary too. But tapping into the inner motivation to learn these subjects will perhaps be easier if we take the German term for developer literally. Imagine how attractive the contents of a package can be all you need is the right tool to develop, a.k.a “unwrap”, them.

I would very much like to hear what you think about this. Do you think that the path of technical education is the reason why there are not more developers in our country? You can use my contact form or send me your perspective at I’m looking forward to hearing from you.