Those that you choose to use, and those that your boss chooses for you.
The “only way to do it” is sometimes painful. But if there are dollars to be made between those button clicks and some frustration, I will happily click them. Hopefully in the right order.
If I have a choice though, I will choose the program that keeps me in the “zone” for as long as possible. Every second I feel like I am waiting on the machine; is one more second I’m likely to change tasks or get distracted from what I’m actually in your program for.
There is some number… of millisecond lag tolerance. This is the most important metric and a balancing act with the value you are creating. How much of the program’s feature plays in your cash generating mechanisms? How long am I willing to wait? Remember I’m not just a user of a novel feature in your app. It is part of an entire flow that you will never see.
In the craft of turning dirt to dollars, I focus mostly on Electronic Design Automation (EDA). The vast amount of tooling surrounding modern Semi-Conductors and PCBs are staggering (and expensive). Unifying these tools for the usage of mere mortals has been my task for the past 5 years.
To me the task of the next 10 years is to optimize this flow to take seconds or minutes… Rather than years. Who will be a blackbox and who will be sherlocked?
Reading code is the most important activity of a computer programmer. Ideally the code is then interpreted and ran as a thought experiment inside the programmer’s brain. This sounds hard, but as you learn an environment, the mind will eventually reach this level of tooling.
The ability to reason about code without running it, is the key to failing fast and often. Which you always want to do. Failing slow is painful. Just as Intellisense is a huge help for catching syntax errors early, not having to actually build & run your program, you can iterate much quicker.
Of course what happens if your internal transpiling mechanism and logic simulation units fail as you bite off more than your meat computer can handle?
Just press F5.
I recommend picking your favorite open source project and start reading. If you get stuck, just start dropping some breakpoints and calibrating your internal toolkit.
There are few speeches that cause me to read them multiple times. Dr. Hamming’s “You and Your Research” resonates deeply with me and is one of my favorites. Hamming, defines a work ethic and sprinkles the talk with antedotes that are both kind and relatable.
If you can find a piece of software that does what you need in a timely manner and is within your budget, then by all means use it and move on. But sometimes you need a feature or a flow that can’t be bought for any cost. You must roll your own.
I’d run for the hills if you can’t stand computers, because the only thing worse than computers is programming computers. But if you have the muster and the gumption you to can make the computer go beep.
Chances are there are ways to make it go beep without you writing your own software but what is the fun in doing that?
The Tool Makers Dilemma…
Sometimes though, you just build to build. This is very, very dangerous. It is the state that I am in right now with the Session Link Engine. I’ve learned and forgotten the web stuff a few times since I started with it in the late 90s.
This was never meant to be a single player game… Perhaps the biggest change in humanity over the past 200 years is the ability to communicate over the wire or the air thousands of miles away instantly.
The Hive Mind is a real thing and is buzzing with all of your data. The aggregate.
I’ve been working on a proof of concept prototype for multi-user editing. Co-design if you will. Essentially a google docs shared cursor:
This has been my side project for a few months and it uses Typescript, React, and WebSockets. Beware that there is no privacy features yet. So be good.
Breathing life into an old unknown codebase is one of the most exhilarating and most often a frustrating endeavor a software engineer can partake in. Duct-tape programmers as someone once said, are a necessity. The question I always ask myself:
Is it easier or faster just to rewrite all this shit?
Depends on where you are in your journey. Knowing when to add another layer of lasagna vs replacing 5k lines of code with 3 python functions and no dependencies is the real key.
Baggage or Luggage? Baggage you wish you could leave behind. Only bring the luggage.