Sunday, March 7, 2010

Nothing Happened To Programming - It's the Problems

In this blog post (and follow up post) Mike Taylor asks "What happened to programming." He writes about creating games as a kid and reflects on his excitement about writing compilers. He enjoyed making things. His complaint is that most programming today is just gluing libraries together to create a solution and as he says "I want to make things, not just glue things together." I agree with him, but not his reasoning.

I think that every programmer wants to make things, but they also want to solve interesting problems. It's not the gluing of libraries together that caused programming to change, it's the sheer number of boring problems that are the cause of Mikes complaints. Nearly every business today can benefit from some sort of custom programming, but that doesn't mean that it will be interesting or fun to create.

For me, I have always looked at programming as tool to solve interesting problems. The issue is that getting a job only solving interesting problems is not always easy to do. There are only so many Google type companies in the world. Most jobs involve writing code to create yet another TPS report variation. I view this as boring repetitive work, but for many programmers it's what pays the bills. I would argue that all of the libraries available actually make this work at least minimally tolerable for most programmers.

In the end Mike says:
I understand, I think, how we landed up here. I wish I know how we can get out.
The way out is to eliminate the boring problems, most likely through a library.

1 comment:

  1. Yeap; you want to solve interesting problems, get a science degree of some sort, then use computers on it.