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Iian Neill
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What I don't understand most of all is your conclusion. No denying that research and communication are important ... but is that what drew people to programming in the first place? The beauty of "10 PRINT ..." -- at least in the days when BASIC was in ROM and not on CD-ROM -- is that it gave kids (and adults) power over the machine and all its spells. If the point was just to see your name printed infinitely on the screen, then loading some pre-written programme from disc would serve the same purpose. The point was that by writing code yourself you could control the machine. Think about that. At some point you might have moved onto assembler, or Pascal, or C, whatever, but that thrill of conjuring up characters, graphics, and sound can be a completely valid end in itself -- even if that's not where you end up twenty years later. You say that the real point of coding is to create solutions -- but to prioritise that over coding itself is like saying that the point of painting or film-making is to improve mental health. Maybe those are side-effects, maybe they are even goals and passions, but if a painting or a film isn't made for the joy of working in the medium, then it is a travesty. I am not saying that coding can't be important to mankind, in what it enables, but it should also be an end in itself, an exercise of the mind.
Toggle Commented May 15, 2012 on Please Don't Learn to Code at Coding Horror
I am really surprised and saddened to see this post coming from this blog. It presupposes that programming is some kind of elite activity for proper comp-sci graduates in white lab coats devising beautiful and pure code in sterile clean rooms.... well, perhaps that doesn't quite fairly represent your argument, I confess! But programming can both be a professional practise and a hobby, and I think it skirts close to snobbery to discourage somebody merely on the grounds that it isn't their day job. Who the hell cares if their code is useful? And who even cares if it's neat, efficient, or beautiful? You don't have to use it and you don't have to read it. We all started off as rank amateurs writing "10 PRINT "..."' -- and you know what, it was pretty exciting at the time. Why should I want to deny that honest pleasure to someone else?
Toggle Commented May 15, 2012 on Please Don't Learn to Code at Coding Horror
Of course, there is one simple way to encourage app-centric design on a website: take away the notion of page scrolling. The browser is pretty much the only common WIMP application that both allows and encourages scrolling of the main canvas. If you designed a website with a one-page canvas, you would be more than halfway to presenting it like an application. But in the days before AJAX and high bandwidth the concept of a 'one-page website' (in other words, 'an application') was untenable.
Toggle Commented Apr 24, 2012 on Will Apps Kill Websites? at Coding Horror
Adnan: There are object-oriented Javascript frameworks out there that allow application-like sites to be built, and jQuery offers a browser-independent baseline for dealing with the DOM.
Toggle Commented Apr 24, 2012 on Will Apps Kill Websites? at Coding Horror
The Ebay website is far from unique in the design cruft that has accumulated on it. You could argue that the problem isn't so much with the web designers, or even the product people trying to shift their particular block onto the real estate, but the twin problem of a [1] desktop-sized display with a [2] pixel-accurate mouse interface. The Ebay app looks beautifully streamlined on the iPhone and the iPad, and the common factor here is the display size and the touch interface. Basically, the twin pressures of a small display coupled with a chunky touch interface (chunky in sensitivity compared to a mouse) force mobile designers to design in large, discrete blocks, which also happen to help streamline data rendering. The proof of this for me is that mobile sites and apps often feel kind of chunky and under-designed when mapped onto a desktop monitor. I suspect it's not just the display, but the fact that the mouse interface encourages pixel-sized interaction, whereas the touch interfaces are completely in the other direction. In other words, where do you 'click' on a mobile site? This could be ameliorated by changing the nature of mouse from 'clicking' to 'touching' -- i.e., deliberately 'degrading' the sensitivity of the mouse, from a desktop perspective. I suspect the main culprit here is the mouse interface itself, and not the screen size, resolution, location, etc. Perhaps Ebay-style websites could be redesigned along more effective principles if the nature of mouse/screen interaction was rethought?
Toggle Commented Apr 24, 2012 on Will Apps Kill Websites? at Coding Horror
Jeff, When you boil it down your argument is the age-old one about the value of a universal education. What Bill Gates seemed to be talking about in 1986, and more so in 2005, is the total creative potential of a coder when they look beyond the logical challenges presented by coding. I think the truth in Gates' remarks is that you can be highly skilled technically -- all the way up from language syntax, to design patterns and algorithms -- but lack a richer creative perspective that comes from seeing the need for a piece of software, before anyone has seen it, or even dreamed of it before. I think his remarks get bogged down a bit in managerese about vision, product, customer satisfaction, etc., but the principle is basically one of paradigm shift. The debate between the value of universal education versus specific education has raged since universities, but I think universal education wins the day if your priority is 'paradigm shift'. Experience in both the arts and the sciences shows the real benefits of learning another completely different discipline, and I suspect it boils down to the fact that really valuable creative work doesn't happen in one part of the brain, but emerges when various mental faculties are developed in parallel. I don't think it's frivolous to improve your coding by taking up the brush or the piano because our monkey brains think logically and sensually. Iian
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Aug 19, 2011