Thursday, October 9, 2008

Programmers' Programmer

There exist men who are described as "a real mans' man." These men are tanned but only because they hike and fish, know how to rebuild engine blocks, love to watch the game on Sunday with their mates and have used every attachment on their Swiss army knife. They read Hemingway, can fix a burst pipe, and have even made a bit of money on the stock market.

Is there a programmers' programmer? If so, what habits does he (or possibly she) have? Are there specific tools that he uses, or is flexibility the key? I think I should try and figure this out.

1 comment:

jml said...

Good question!

If I put "Hemingway" and "programmer" in the same sentence, I immediately think of "Linux kernel hacker". This makes me thing of Linus Torvalds, Val Henson, Alan Cox and Rusty Russell.

As best as I can tell, they are all quite different people. I don't really know much about their toolset or habits.

If I cast my mind to general "programmer's programmer" traits, here's what I get:

* if you don't know something, do an experiment
* automate, automate, automate. Don't do boring stuff.
* JFDI. If at any point you are uncertain, whack in an XXX comment and keep going.
* if you have an unstoppable superweapon, use it early and often. i.e. don't piss-fart about with adding print statements if you can just run strace or gdb or whatever.

Googling for "perlis epigrams" might be enlightening, as it's a different angle on the problem.