Software Developers vs. Software Artists

It is 3:00AM in the morning and even though the last week has been one of the most intense (and satisfying) iterations of my Nothin But .Net course to date, I am sitting here thinking about some of the amazing conversations that occurred over the course of the week.

One of the things that I don’t do a good job of hiding is my passion with respect to pursuit of excellent in your craft. With respect to the world of software development I personally feel that people fall into one of two categories. That of a software developer and a software artist.

IMHO, I truly believe that more developers would feel a lot greater satisfaction with their job if they took the time to exercise the creative sides of their brain. In our microwave culture, we are not satisfied unless we can get things happening now!

Like great artists of history (and present), building good software that is elegant and most of all maintainable, is more than just understanding the concepts of the language(s) that you are targeting. You need to be able to leverage the creative side of your mind to figure out how you can use the building blocks of the language and come up with concepts that can mirror/model the problem domain in a way that you can’t be taught just by googling.

A software artist takes time to hone their craft. They realize that the creative side of programming is more important that the language(s) or tools that they are using to implement the solution. Like an artist they take time to cultivate and grow their own unique style daily. Two software artists given the same problem to solve and no google to read will most likely come up with elegant solutions to the problem, but I would wager as to whether the solutions would look anywhere near the same. Why, because now their own personal styles are coming into play and they are flexing their creative and technical muscles to solve the problems at hand.

I challenge you this week (and going forward) to remember that creating software is more than:

  • Learning a language
  • Learning some cool tools (NHibernate,Castle,….)
  • Learning design patterns

Once you have a certain base of knowledge built up, the trick is not to challenge yourself to not just churn out the same old code day after day. Let your brain do what God designed it to do and let it run. Let it first identify the box and then figure out if there are creative ways that you can look at the problem to see if you can come up with a solution to the problem that you (or anyone else) has already come up with.

Develop With Passion.