Thursday, December 4, 2008

When Programming Was Fun

I'm a self-taught programmer. My first program was written on a TI-59 calculator. I hand assembled 6502 machine code on a SYM-1 single board computer before I wrote anything in a high level language. I never thought about the process much. I had an idea, thought for a while, and started coding. If the idea and thinking were good, the code would work, otherwise you started over. Designing software and coding were intricately connected and I never even considered separating the two.

When I started programming professionally, not much changed. I worked with people who had similar experience to mine. Except for the addition of a customer who set the broad requirements, the process we used was still the same. The programmer's always designed the software. It worked. We delivered working systems to customers and the programmer's had fun.

Then I started working with people who had more formal training in programming. Suddenly, design and coding were expected to be separate activities. My mind never really accepted that this was possible to solve a software problem by just talking and thinking about it. Programming became much harder and much less fun than it was before.

Lately I've been thinking about if it is possible to regain that old feeling of fun. Certainly, when I program for myself, it is fun. But is it possible to get the feeling back on paying projects?

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