7 frustrating things about being a programmer
Like any other job, programming has its frustrating aspects. Here are seven things that drove me nuts
Image credit: flickr/Peter Alfred Hess
No doubt that most of you people who aren’t programmers, or have never been programmers, look at those of us who are or were programmers and think, “Boy, that’s gotta be a great job. Exciting, fast paced, highly compensated, well respected and, above all, extremely sexy. What’s not to love about being a programmer? I wish I was one.” Those are understandable assumptions. But, really, it’s not always all wine, roses and hanging out with George Clooney at his Italian villa.
Oh no. This may be surprising, but it can often be headache inducing. As a matter of fact, after 13 years of raising my kids, I’d blame the 15 or so years as a developer as the second biggest cause for my gray hairs and bald spot. Just like any other job, it’s filled with its frustrating, hair-pulling, banging-your-head-against-the-wall moments.
Based on my own experiences, here now, in no particular order, are seven of the most frustrating things I found about being a programmer:
People assuming you can fix any computer-related problem - Yes, I write code for a living; no, I can’t help you with your printing problem or that attachment you can’t open or that laptop that won’t boot up. Unless you want to buy me lunch or a beer, then maybe I can help.
End users not providing enough information about bugs - Thanks for the bug report, but writing simply “It doesn’t work” isn’t all that helpful. How about telling me things like what screen you were on, what action you took, what you expected to happen and what actually happened, and what (if any) error message you got. It never hurts to include browser and OS or platform, either. Basically, by providing more information upfront you will save us both the time of me having to come back to you with “Now what exactly were you doing?” and will help get your problem solved faster.
Storing code in the database - I got my start as a PL/SQL programmer, writing stored procedures and triggers and such, and I kind of liked it. I also understand the need for it sometimes but the further along I went, the less I wanted to put code in the database; it made code debugging and maintenance a royal pain. It’s hard to beat running the good old find command when you’re trying to track down the source of an error message, not to mention being able to review file revision histories and such.
Overly zealous Scrum Masters - Agile came into my life later in my coding career and, for the most part, I liked it. But one thing I didn’t like, Scrum Masters who made the Nazis look easy going. Does it really matter who moves the yellow sticky note to the “In Progress” column of the Scrum board? Will the project come crashing down if I sit (or lean on a table) during a stand up? Take it easy, fella.
People ignoring documentation - Part of my job as a developer was to write documentation, sometimes technical docs for other developers and sometimes end user documentation. It was written and made available to you for a reason; please at least take a spin through it before coming to me and asking me to explain from scratch how something works.
Tabs/indents set to anything other than four characters - This was my own personal preference. Four characters just looked right when reading code; anything else looked wrong and made me want to fix it.
Project managers ignoring or understating time estimates to complete a task or project - If you don’t like the time estimate I’ve given you for how long it will take to build or code something, let’s talk about it. Don’t simply ignore it or cut in half and proceed with your timeline planning. I didn’t pull the estimate out of thin air; it’s based on my experience and some careful thought.
I’m sure I’m leaving something out. It’s been a few years since I was in the coding trenches and I’ve probably repressed a few particularly frustrating memories.
Are you a programmer? What do you find most frustrating about the job? Please share in the comments.