Why do we geeks get so excited by technology? Why do we go into convulsions of joy when we build something that works? It’s art, baby. I’ve figured it out. Writing code is an artform. Writing good code (where good is defined by each individual geek, unfortunately) is the equivalent of Waterlilies by Van Gogh. It moves me. When something works, it’s like a gallery show of my work. I can tell my family and friends, “Look, see what I have built and the cool stuff it can do.” Even though most of them aren’t geeks, they can look and see that it works and doesn’t break when they click stuff. To them, it is good. To my geek friends, I can say, “Look at my tiny codebase that’s portable to other projects. Look at the thoughtful inside jokes I put in my useful comments. Gaze upon my stellar documentation. Marvel at my valid DOCTYPE and how well-tabbed everything is.”
The best is when I build something that not only works and looks good, but performs. I can look at it and know that it’s handling several hundred requests a second and standing strong. Nothing’s more difficult or rewarding than building product for large-scale consumption. Almost anyone could eventually write something that will work on a small scale or in testing. It takes a special something to build it to withstand a pounding and stay up. The opposite is building something that I think is top-shelf and then have it come crashing to earth under load. It’s demoralizing. It’s tedious to go through hundreds of lines of code to find variables that might not be unset or data structures that aren’t freed. It takes time, which is usually in short supply. But, once it works again, all is well and triumph is sweet!!
Thus ends another lesson. Be sure to hug your geek.