This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

The importance of code

Recently I've noticed that when people learn of my occupation 9 out of 10 times the first question out of their mouth is "so what languages can you write?" which is a question that troubles me somewhat.

The problem is the assumption that software development is simply a set of distinct languages that can be learned and mastered in the same way you would learn Spanish or French.  In reality the multitude of languages that exist are merely tools and nothing more, and the field of software development has (very) little to do with knowing languages.

A great example are the hoards of developers who would call themselves a C# developer but wouldn't touch VB with a bargepole.  Well here's a secret, the differences are purely syntactical, they use the same paradigm (object oriented) and the both compile to the same intermediate language so in reality they already "know" VB.

The real question we should be asking each other are "what technologies are you working on, and does it challenge any of my currently accepted norms?"

We must be really careful not to pigeon-hole ourselves into language-shaped boxes, but to understand that the languages we use at work are just the tip of the iceberg. Software development is a craft in the same way as other professions.

I'll leave you with this fitting analogy:
Code to a developer is the same as a pencil is to an engineer.

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