Some thoughts on Programming

As programmers our work consists of the following: talking, thinking, coding and difficult stuff. All four things are necessary.

Talking is essential, we swop ideas, learn new things and generally train our brains in new skills.

Thinking: this is where we are mulling over problems, planning possible solutions or re-evaluating. One of the key times for me doing this is at home when I’m not in front of a computer or in a noisy open plan office. I like to garden and quite often great ideas will pop up ‘out of the ground’.

Coding, this is putting into practice everything we’ve talked about and practised. Some programmers spend to a lot of their time coding, others take a more surgical approach. Apparently programmers only spend ten per cent of their working day writing programs, which sounds wrong but is about right.

Difficult stuff: This is a catch-all term for all the bits of work that is either truly difficult, hard-to-solve bugs or the flash stuff where we show off. “Look at me, I can do this’. Some of the difficult stuff is difficult because we simply don’t do it very often. Pushing software live is one of these things. Some of the difficult stuff becomes much easier with practice.

Other tasks remain difficult not because of the technical complexity but the complexity of the relationships between all the interested parties. Programmers, despite quite often wanting to, rarely work in isolation and what they do affects others. None more so when pushing software live.

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