Coding; is it a lost art?
As you might be aware, I attended TechEd Australia 2012. I then procedure to start writing a game using XNA 4.0. The progress of which will be posted in another blog but after attending a session there which was often more about not re-inventing the wheel but standing on the shoulders of others it made me realise that to many, coding is starting to become a lost art form.
What do I mean, surely now, there are more programmers than there ever has been. That tools for today are so much better than they used to be that it is even easier for programmers to get started. The number of web sites dedicated to coding, programming, the different languages and even tips and tricks anything really. But this isn’t what I am talking about. It is about solving a problem, understanding the problem, knowing what needs to be done and going about doing it.
There is a growing trend of what I call the Bing coders, or Google coders. These are people who will look for any problems solution online. Not re-inventing the wheel, but this surely goes beyond that. I will throw back to the days at university. I learnt Assembly programming, the internet was barely used in the mainstream (we had it at university but not like today), mail, using a web browser called Lynx I think, it was on a VAX VMS system, which we used to dial into the university from home. We needed to work out everything ourselves, not only did we need to hand in a disk with out source code and running exe on it, we needed to also provide all of the pseudo-code we wrote to help solve the problems.
I am not trying to advocate going back to those days, but what I am merely saying is, we needed to work it out. If we couldn’t then we would not pass the assignment. There would be people who tried to “leverage” code from other students, we even had people hacking the network and get other students code (am not sure why they did that, surely if they spend the time to do the assignment than hack it it would be finished, as these were smart guys).
I am also not advocating the total banning of the internet, I have used it many times for references and looking up information when I have been stuck. I am not sure there is any programmer out there that has never been stuck and hasn’t sought help elsewhere, be it a colleague or the internet.
But what I am going to do and those who are programmers and are reading this should, try this. It will help. I have been provided with this resource and I have been meaning to really get into it for some time, but haven’t. Go to projecteuler.net and there you will find, a number I mean 394 and growing mathematical problems. The purpose of this site is to solve these problems using a method, typically it is programmer, but I am sure if you can do it in other means. You can register and post your solutions to the forums for each time you finish the problem, but to see the solution they used, you need to solve it and provide the answer to the problem.
This is a real honour system, it is to not only test your problem solving skills but also your skill as a programmer. There are times when they might require the solution to be solved in a number of minutes, but once again there is now check. It is up to you. Once I finish each problem I will post the solution here on my blog. I will also post it in VB, C# and C++.
So in the order of things I am hoping that people will get better at programming an rely less on using the internet to solve their problems.