Coding Horror

programming and human factors

On American Programmers

Paul Graham posted an interesting new essay about American culture and software development:

This works well in some fields and badly in others. I suspect it works in movies and software because they're both messy processes. "Systematic" is the last word I'd use to describe the way good programmers write software. Code is not something they assemble painstakingly after careful planning, like the pyramids. It's something they plunge into, working fast and constantly changing their minds, like a charcoal sketch.

In software, paradoxical as it sounds, good craftsmanship means working fast. If you work slowly and meticulously, you merely end up with a very fine implementation of your initial, mistaken idea. Working slowly and meticulously is premature optimization. Better to get a prototype done fast, and see what new ideas it gives you.

In other words, good programmers get off their butts.*

I could say "asses", yes, but I respect the delicate, tender sensibilities of my readership.

Written by Jeff Atwood

Indoor enthusiast. Co-founder of Stack Overflow and Discourse. Disclaimer: I have no idea what I'm talking about. Find me here: