In a society where technology and the Internet have become incredibly prominent elements of our daily lives, being able to program is akin to having a super power. In fact, a programmer is able to not only easily interact with cutting edge technology, but also to take advantage of said technology to transform pure thoughts into something as tangible and useful as software.
I would argue that there has never been a more exciting time for being able to program. While being a part of our industry back in the late seventies and early eighties must have been a very exciting time for programmers, I feel that what we have in our hands now is an even greater opportunity.
Today we are standing on the shoulders of giants, and are able to access amazing development tools, frameworks, and libraries – mostly for free thanks to the FOSS movement (and even some commercial powerhouses are now available in free versions).
Cloud computing gets rid of most upfront costs and allows us to scale our apps as the need arises. Mobile marketplaces enable us to target millions of mobile users. Documentation to help you learn how to program abounds in a myriad of media, from blog posts all the way to complete video tutorials.
In addition, programming support forums are becoming ever more amazing, thanks to initiatives like StackOverflow. As such, it’s never been easier (or cheaper, for that matter) to create software that has a major impact on the world.
Even if you have the funds at your disposal to hire programmers to do all the work for you, learning (at least the fundamental basics of) how to program will make your job as a “product guy” considerably easier. Possessing this ability will allow you to better gauge the skill levels of those you’re hiring, and then better communicate your ideas to them, and also understand what the limitations and technical challenges of a given implementation are.
As professional programmers it can be easy to forget how our skills are anything but common. This post is just a thought I wanted to share with those who are considering the possibility of becoming programmers, but haven’t yet donned the proverbial cape and made the leap (or should I say, the single bound).
Photo credit: Julian Fong