Coding Horror

programming and human factors

Because I love the smell of compilation in the morning

As McConnell notes in Code Complete:

If you haven't spent at least a month working on the same program -- working 16 hours a day, dreaming about it during the remaining 8 hours of restless sleep, working several nights straight through truing to eliminate that "one last bug" from the program -- then you haven't really written a complicated computer program. And you may not have the sense that there is something exhilarating about programming.

-- Edward Yourdon

This lusty tribute to programming machismo is pure B.S. and an almost certain recipe for failure. Those all-night programming stints make you feel like the greatest programmer in the world, but then you have to spend several weeks correcting the defects you installed during your blaze of glory. By all means, get excited about programming. But excitement is no substitute for competency. Remember which is more important.

Enthusiasm is important-- I'd rather work with someone who is gonzo than someone who is apathetic-- but there's definitely a point where it becomes a negative. Although I try to avoid it, I find myself veering into "macho coder" territory sometimes.

Don't invest tons of hours for the wrong reasons. As any EverQuest player will tell you, time does not always equal value.

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: