Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Idleness in programming

Paul Graham has the following to say:

...the Python paradox: if a company chooses to write its software in a comparatively esoteric language, they'll be able to hire better programmers, because they'll attract only those who cared enough to learn it.

I have spent the last six months of my working life in a kind of "battle for idleness" in the company for which I work. Given the success of my first big ASP.NET deployment, it looks as if some of my suggestions (automated builds, Unit Testing, skills profiles, etc.) may well receive time for enactment.

In particular, the astonishment with which people viewed a nifty bit of Python indexing a directory of Word documents (with metadata) was revelatory. That script took me about 90 minutes to write, on-and-off, at home. I cannot really understand why people are happy to perform that same tedious tasks over again, when an hour or so with (something like) Python can solve these things for good. I despise boring repetition; if I have to do someting twice, it annoys me; three times, and I look for a simplification ;o).

The sort of idleness I have in mind is that which leaves my mind free to concentrate on producing lots of good, cunning, solid code. I actually find that tedious reptition makes me "stupid", but coding in Python makes me "smarter".


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