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The person who fixed a problem you don’t know you have

A couple of days ago I read this on a Facebook post: “A programmer is a person who fixed a problem that you don’t know you have, in a way you don’t understand.” And it made me think.

As a programmer myself I do realise that most people don’t understand what we do, but i’ve been doing for so long that it doesn’t bother me at all. How do you explain a day’s work worth of source code (the product of the programmer) to your wife or a friend? (Unless he or she is a programmer too). Software development is very difficult to quantify, evaluate or measure for the average person. If it were construction, people could see bits and pieces being added to a building until its complete. It is comprehensible, it is visible…

… But software is different. All you see at best is a user interface, a report or a dashboard. Features that may catch your eye if you are interested but most of the work, goes unnoticed and even unappreciated. What the consumer can see is just the proverbial “tip of the iceberg”.

And it is true as well that programmers, fix problems much before “users” start using the software; actually problem solving starts even before one starts coding and it never last till support stops for that particular piece of work.

So thinking about it, a good measure of the value of a programmers’ work is the problems that you as a consumer don’t have.. which roughly translates into “how long can you use the application/product without a finding a problem?”

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