Programming is an often underestimated profession. It doesn’t consist of a single skill but is rather an ever expanding fan of sometimes very different skills that each require considerable time to master. Today at CisTheta Global we discuss about the most important things that non-programmers should know about programmers, and as I’ve spent most of my college time with more non-programmers than programmers, I have a few interesting things to tell. Here we go…
Programmers are not Technicians
Programmers are not technicians. While usually being a programmer does come with a lot of “computer knowledge”. But, they don’t know what’s wrong with printer or how to make beautiful alignments with Microsoft Word. They are not a reference manual for whatever software you’re trying to use.
Programming is an art form, not a process
There are countless ways to do things and each one has its fair share of pros and cons. When you say “make a website that does X”, every part of that sentence is a design decision that relies on relative strengths and weaknesses. From the language choice, to the framework choice, to the layout of the website, to the actual implementation of the logic.
Programming is time consuming, much more so than you’d think.
Simple programs are exactly that, simple. Everyone should be capable of learning to write simple programs. Where it becomes difficult is architecting medium to large systems and having all the pieces work together reliably. You would be surprised how basic a “simple” program would look and work.
Programming has an incredible culture of sharing that works.
Many people don’t realize how much free code there is in the world, and how much everything relies on it. If they did, they probably wouldn’t believe it: how can a whole industry operate if so many people work for free? Of course, the real question they should be asking is: how can an industry operate if people don’t share?
Programmers can be tired too.
“Why are you tired, you sit at a computer screen all day” – If you want to ruin a programmers week ask them this. I promise you they’ll flip out. It’s depressing when you sit staring at your computer screen for 10 hours and still can’t fix a bug or get the results you expect, then have someone who knows nothing about what you do tell you have an easy job and not doing it right.
Programming is just logic.
There’s nothing mystical about it. You’re just writing out logic in a way that a computer can understand. This is what determines how programming feels. There are no ambiguities. The computer always does exactly what you tell it to; when it does the wrong thing, it means somebody told it to the wrong thing. The computer won’t reason for you. It won’t try to guess what you meant. It will just do exactly what you said to do.
Don’t call us programmers. Most professional programmers, don’t like to be called programmers. We prefer to have job titles that describe what business problems we solve. For example, software engineers design and build software solutions to business problems. Their job partly involves programming but that doesn’t encompass their entire job. Search Engine Optimization experts program, but they aren’t called programmers. They optimize search engine results for business which sometimes involves programming.
Not all time spent on the computer is wasting time.
For some reason people find it hard to believe that you can actually be doing something productive on the computer. I find this very infuriating. Every moment I spend on the computer is followed by “why are you always on the computer lets go outside and get some fresh air. ” I don’t need anymore fresh air, the air blowing from my PC vents is cooling me off just fine.
Programmers are normal people who found their real happiness in making new things right by typing on their PC and finding out solutions for the old bugs.