[2004-03-06] “Are you going to remain a programmer all your life?”

Why do people look down upon programming? Why do most software engineers want to “move on” and become managers or architects? Why is it that an interview candidate with hardly four years of experience behind him says “I have done enough coding in my life - now I only want to design and architect systems”?

Very few people seem to actually enjoy programming. Very few seem to appreciate how versatile a problem solving tool the computer can become if you know how to program it. Fewer still realise the truly amazing exploratory and recreational powers of the programmable computer (“The Armchair Universe” by A. K. Dewdney anyone?).

Few people are good at programming. Those who are, are usually “promoted” into leading or managing roles within their organisation, needing skills that they rarely have - a classic example of the Peter Principle in action. As in any craft, good programming skills come over time working on real-life systems and this process leads to a perpetual shortage of good programmers.


Anyway, in an exciting turn of events for GCC hackers, the GCC Steering Committee has finally given the go ahead for the merging of the “Tree-SSA” project into the mainline. This allows GCC to have new and powerful optimisation phases and considerably simplifies its internals.

In order to make sense of all this, I have bought Steven Muchnick's “Advanced Compiler Design and Implementation”. What really surprised me was that not only was this book readily available in the local bookstores here in Bangalore, but that it was also available in a nice and quite affordable Indian edition! Are there really that many compiler professionals or hackers in Bangalore? Why do I not get to meet them?

Other Posts from 2004