Programming

Besides equating the programming process with a programmer’s capabilities, minimizing the importance of programming and programmers’ skills in the whole process (see previous post), there are several other misconceptions about programming that influence process’ outcomes.

Having a deep knowledge of a programming language allows programmers to easily approach other programming languages, however each language has its own learning curve ranging from a few weeks to half of year or more. The learning curve is dependent on the complexity of the languages known and the language to be learned, same applying to frameworks and architectures, the scenarios in which the languages are used, etc. One unrealistic expectation is that the programmers are capable of learning a new programming language or framework overnight, this expectation pushing more pressure on programmers’ shoulders as they need to compensate in a short time for the knowledge gap. No, the programming languages are not the same even if there’s high resemblance between them!

There’s lot of code available online, many of the programming tasks involve writing similar code. This makes people assume that programming can resume to copy-paste activities and, in extremis, that there’s no creativity into the act of programming. Beside the fact that using others’ code comes with certain copyright limitations, copy-pasting code is in general a way of introducing bugs in software. One can learn a lot from others’ code, though programmers’ challenge resides in writing better code, in reusing code while finding the right level of abstraction.

There’s the tendency on the market to build whole applications using wizard-like functionality and of generating source-code based on data or ontological models. Such approaches work in a range of (limited) scenarios, and even if the trend is to automate as much in the process, is not what programming is about. Each such tool comes with its own limitations that sooner or later will push back. Changing the code in order to build new functionality or to optimize the code is often not a feasible solution as it imposes further limitations.

Programming is not only about writing code. It involves also problem-solving abilities, having a certain understanding about the business processes, in which the conceptual creativity and ingenuity of design can prove to be a good asset. Modelling and implementing processes help programmers gain a unique perspective within a business.

For a programmer the learning process never stops. The release cycle for the known tools becomes smaller, each release bringing a new set of functionalities. Moreover, there are always new frameworks, environments, architectures and methodologies to learn. There’s a considerable amount of effort in expanding one’s (necessary) knowledge, effort usually not planned in projects or outside of them. Trainings help in the process, though they hardly scratch the surface. Often the programmer is forced to fill the knowledge gap in his free time. This adds up to the volume of overtime one must do on projects. On the long run it becomes challenging to find the needed time for learning.

In resource planning there’s the tendency to add or replace resources on projects, while neglecting the influence this might have on a project and its timeline. Each new resource needs some time to accommodate himself on the role, to understand project requirements, to take over the work of another. Moreover, resources are replaced on project with a minimal or even without the knowledge transfer necessary for the job ahead. Unfortunately, same behavior occurs in consultancy as well, consultants being moved from one known functional area into another unknown area, changing the resources like the engines of different types of car, expecting that everything will work as magic.

See also:
Misconceptions about Programming - Part II
The Dark Side of Programming

® Originally published on sql-troubles

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IT professional/blogger with more than 19 years experience in IT - Software Engineering, BI & Analytics, Data, Project, Quality, Database & Knowledge Management

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Adrian

Adrian

IT professional/blogger with more than 19 years experience in IT - Software Engineering, BI & Analytics, Data, Project, Quality, Database & Knowledge Management

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