back to article Coders are creatives too: Where's our love?...

Developers conjure something from nothing, all day, every day; to my mind this is creation in its purest sense. Okay, we’re not knocking up a universe in seven days or putting the final touches to The Scream – although it may often feel like that – but building order, fun, even beauty, from a tapestry of ones and noughts is …

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  1. Graham Dawson

    It doesn't help that many software devs have spent the last 30 years insisting that they're actually "software engineers", against all evidence to the contrary.

    the thing is, it's really not an either/or outcome. Software devs have to have many of the more obsessive characteristics of the engineer and the flighty genious of the art diva combined. The urge to classify people as one or other is the real problem.

    1. Dr. Mouse Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      @Graham Dawson

      I beleive you are highlighting the main misconception of society in your comment here.

      Engineers ARE BOTH technical AND creative people.

      Solving a complex engineering problem requires both technical ability and a creative mind. The best engineers often solve the new problems by coming up with new techniques, which obviously involves a creative element. Even applying an existing technique to a new situation involves imagination and creativity.

      The problem is that (in this country at least) engineers are considered the doers. I remember a poll in the UK asking people to name the most famous engineer they knew. The most popular answer: Kevin Webster, a mechanic from Coronation Street. It does not help that cleaners have job titles like "Sanitation Engineer", but in this country the word Engineer is misunderstood by the vast majority of the population.

      Contrast this to, for example, Germany. Over there, engineers are looked upon very highly, in the same way as doctors. I beleive (although I may be wrong) that there are rules about who may be called an engineer.

      The problem is not that Devs/Coders/Software engineers are not recognised in their creative capacity, but that technical creatives in general are not recognised by the majority of the population. This is why we are regulated to "doers", and the crayon brigade get the aclaim.

      1. Arrrggghh-otron

        @Dr. Mouse

        "in this country the word Engineer is misunderstood by the vast majority of the population."

        and recruiters (yes I'm still bashing recruiters) as is evidenced by the near total lack of comprehension of how a BEng is not the same as a BSc in computing.

        1. David Hicks

          IEEE fail

          The IEEE have been hammering out a definition of how they might approach an engineering certification and professional accreditation for what, 15 years now?

          I'll stop calling myself a Software Engineer when there's a way to become an accredited Software Engineer, and I'll only stop long enough to get accredited.

      2. James Micallef Silver badge

        In most of continental Europe, engineers are referred as Ing, not as Mr , in teh same way doctors are Dr. Only warranted engineers are allowed to use 'Ing', same as only doctors are allowed to use Dr xxx MD

  2. Tchou
    Holmes

    C#

    Hell. I thought it was about actual programmers, not self mutilated ready made lovers.

    <- - - - High education not necessarily needed. Creativity required.

  3. Jonathan White
    Thumb Up

    Applause

    More of this level of writing, less of the 'Jesus Fone lol' stuff please.

    1. ~mico
      Meh

      We can sneer at C#...

      But programming even on that level is still one of the most complex and creative tasks humanity have invented.

      1. Tchou
        FAIL

        Thanks to Microsoft, programming is widely more complex than it ought to be.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        But

        It isn't on a par with neurosurgery -- or any surgery for that matter, now is it?

        Even plumbing, is in my view, far more challenging and I am speaking as a coder.

        And what about pure engineering? The stuff that gets probes to the edge of the solar system and still work after thirty years? That's far more challenging.

        Oh -- and some of it involves coding. In assembler.

        Honestly. Get over yourself. We are not special.

        1. Morg
          Megaphone

          Mhh . why not ?

          Not on par with neurosurgery ???

          No it is not, it's way above.

          Us coders can create software to replace your oh-so-mighty neurosurgeons ...

          Us coders made them the tools they needed to actually do their job

          As we made all the tools that increased human productivity hundredfold - at least.

          As we made all the tools that enable us to have all-automated factories.

          As we made all the tools the 'real engineers' are mostly users of today (yes you can ask them, most of their work is actually just using software).

          Plumbing ? lol . I can make a robot that handles plumbing and the only reason it's not robot work is because plumbers are cheaper than bots.

          You think we're not special ? well . maybe your coding sucks I don't know ...

          Sure thing is, a good dev is more than a bit more useful than anyone in any specialty, bar the top field expert.

          Probes to the edge of the solar system ? right .

          The only way we went to the moon or to anywhere else is because we had computing and coders.

          Honestly, come to realize it, coders are majorly important to this civilization.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            I think you would be surprised to discover

            "The only way we went to the moon or to anywhere else is because we had computing and coders."

            Actually most of it was done by a slide rule.

            My coding is actually quite good (its at least pragmatic). but there's no way I am a neurosurgeon, plumber or civil engineer in spite of having a physics degree and well over 20 years programming experience. I used to do avionics software (first proper job) but I'm neither a pilot or a air traffic controller (most of which they still do in their heads).

            I would go as far as to suggest a little modesty and a sense of proportion might allow you to write even better and more reliable code.

          2. Tchou
            Headmaster

            @Morg

            Are you allright?

          3. The Fuzzy Wotnot
            Pint

            @Morg

            Jesus mate it's no real wonder people see coders as backroom geeks with delusions of grandeur when you spout such utter bollocks it would make Tony Blair say, "Jesus that's a shed load of utter bollocks and I know about spouting utter bollocks!".

        2. ~mico
          Flame

          No "but"s - only NOTs, ANDS and ORs.

          Neurosurgery? Can they do it without CT? (CT is COMPUTER tomography)

          Probes at the edge of space? Their parameters were thoroughly COMPUTED, and yes, the COMPUTER still runs the code after forty years. No bugs.

          Even plumbing is built only after they calculate max flow values on a COMPUTER.

          No, we're not special. Engineers once were like us. Some still are - and be it new space probe, or new medical robot, or new iphone - we work together. But some managers believe they can create value better than us. That's what article is about.

          And yes, before we wrote C#, we wrote in assembler. And some of us even remember, why xor ax,ax was better than mov ax,0

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Ok, some boring numbers

            Expert Coder: around 15,000 hours (any discipline)

            Expert Neurosurgeon: around 50,000 hours (that's after being just a qualified surgeon - 7 or 8 years before any specialisation).

            Now ... let's review our position.

            I am a coder and of course we are important in modern society. But we are certainly not rare or irreplaceable.

            We're also quite easy to train and there's not a waiting list for C# coders.

            1. Morg

              I believe this discussion has strayed far from the original point, so I'll refrain from commenting that part --

              Coders are not "important", they are the core of EVERYTHING today.

              The not rare or irreplaceable point of view is purely a business one, and it applies to EVERY single job out there.

              In reality, when you have a real excellent coder, he's worth a hundred (or more) average coders because of how programming works. (when you have an excellent engineer, he's at best worth a dozen average engineers, by comparison)

              I agree, my point is quite moot as I only consider good coders, which we all know are a clear minority in an environment where anyone who can code any solution (even with bugs and all) to a problem is considered a programmer by incompetent HR and Management alike.

          2. Tchou
            Boffin

            If you're

            half decent in ASM, chances are that you will never bother with the C# super pig.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @~mico

            "And some of us even remember, why xor ax,ax was better than mov ax,0"

            That's just wrong.

            xor ax,ax takes 6 clock cycles and 3 bytes while mov ax,0 only takes 4 clock cycles and 3 bytes.

            Also, architecture plays a part here and it isn't universal.

            But its not important.

    2. Arrrggghh-otron

      R.E. Applause

      What he said!

    3. Sam Liddicott

      yes please

      we can make the crass comments ourselves or in the comments page. if we see them in the story we may as well stop reading right there whether it is an opinion piece or not.

  4. Ru
    Unhappy

    In defense of the crayon-pushers,

    decent graphic design ain't easy. The world is full of what might charitably be termed 'programmer art' when it comes to GUIs and various colours and flavours of visualisation.

    I don't think the problem of conflating software devs with tech support is ever going to go away though, because the underlying issues are just too abstract for most people to understand. Seems like the average Joe is quite capable of understanding that a civil engineer isn't necessarily going to help him put up some shelves, and a biochemist might not be very good at baking... but when I say something like 'I work in computer vision' they'll say 'I've got this problem with my printer... maybe you can help?'

  5. Metal Marv
    Thumb Up

    Great article

    I really identified with this :)

  6. gid

    Agreed.

    I've always found the term "creative department" offensive. The creative process is the responsibility for a wide range of roles: art, programming, UX, project management (ie. what's practical), for example.

    By calling one department "creative" is implicitly calling the others "uncreative", and while it might seem to be arguing semantics, I think it sets ethos, and results in the others feeling disenfranchised, and also resentful of the "airy-fairy crayon boys" that make up crap that's unimplementable.

    Similarly, calling the programming/development department "Technical" is an insult to those art guys that know their tools with a deep, technical knowledge and expertise.

    Call the departments "Art" (as programming might be a craft, but it's not art); "Programming" (as "development" can be confused with business development); and the combination of the two (plus any other project-focused depts, eg. not Accounting) "Production".

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Holmes

      You could offer to examine his eyeball instead.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re: programming might be a craft, but its not art

      I refer you to Mr D. Knuth's "Art of Computer Programming"

      not that i disagree with you, its just funny that the seminal work in computer science calls it art.

  7. TheOtherHobbbes

    You don't understand

    Designers are in the sales and marketing business. Sales and marketing *bring cash in* because they're fundamentally about *persuasion* - which is the only factor that really matters to sales.

    Because of the way this culture is set up, many many 'technology' companies sell mediocre, flawed or broken products. They can do this because if sales and marketing are good enough, customers are so awed, dominated, or monopolised they will put up with inconvenience.

    Even if they hate the product, even if it barely works at all, they can still be made to buy it. (q.v. Microsoft, and not a few big enterprise big names.)

    The user experience is a relatively small part of the persuasion process. Superficial design and/or hard sell and/or monopoly building and/or evangelism are far more influential.

    This is why making things work gets less traction with management than making things sell.

    Now - you can argue that crayons aren't all that good at persuasion. And that's partly true. In fact, some are useless and a danger to themselves and others. But some are very good at adding a layer of want on top of something quite ordinary.

    Thing is, being in the persuasion business they only need to be able to *sell themselves.*

    Engineers typically don't have a clue about this. Engineers care about solving problems for their own sake and making widgets and thingummies, not so much about the persuasive leverage widgets and thingummies exert on customers or management.

    Which, incidentally, is why Apple did so well under Saint Steve. Apple's ability to create a near-mystical ownership experience is far more important to customers than Apple's software, which is often less than stellar.

    E.g (I hope) no one is going to claim that iTunes is a best of breed music manager. But if you compare it with - say - VLC, which has network control and all kinds of other 'clever' extras, but can't save and restore EQ curves correctly, it's obvious that leaving engineers to design things without external management works even less well.

    Bottom line is that if coders want to feel some management love they need to learn to play the persuasion game.

    The only exceptions are master engineers who do truly insanely cool stuff. But there aren't many of those around. And just being a competent - even a very competent - code monkey doesn't cut it for Rest of World.

    1. Pastey
      WTF?

      And yet...

      If the marketing people went away, people would still buy for need. If the people who build went away, there'd be less crayons used.

    2. Dave Murray
      Thumb Down

      Sales and marketing do not "bring cash in" they only think they do. You need to have a product to sell in order to make money, sales and marketing are just self important fluff.

      1. Ru

        @Dave Murray

        Sales and marketing do most assuredly bring money in. They do a hard job, and they're pretty much essential for any business... especially one that needs to sell stuff to other businesses. Unless you've developed some kind of sexbot that cures HIV, you're going to have to work at making people want to buy your product. Conversely, a well marketed but mediocre product will do just fine in the absense of serious competition; this has been demonstrated over and over and over again.

        I share the general Dilbertesque dislike for the sales drones as most other techies, but having worked in a couple of startups it is extremely and unpleasantly clear to me what a necessary evil they are.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        No product?

        Actually it is possible for Sales and Marketing to "bring cash in" without a product. Except they aren't called Sales and Marketing people, they're called Investment Bankers.

      3. Morg

        Well actually...

        They bring cash in . From the other companies market share.

        Yes they do . and yes it would be worthless outside of capitalism. But here it is, market share > all.

    3. Frank Fisher
      Thumb Up

      Oh I do understand

      Persuasion is the key - I think it's where technical people often fail; we spend so much time getting it RIGHT, that we neglect to focus on persuading others why it's right, how tricky it was to get right, why it's better doing it this way than that way.

      So yes, in the end you are correct; what matters is convincing others.

  8. Torben Mogensen

    Intellectual rights

    A problem might be that, unlike most other creative persons, programmers rarely keep the intellectual property rights to their work. I don't know British law, but in Danish law, programming is an explicit exception to the rule that creators automatically keep the rights to their work.

    Another problem might be the success of free open-source software: If people give the software away, it surely can't be that hard to make it in the first place? Very few musicians or novelists give their work away fro free. An exception might be the increasing success of webcomics, which are often free to read online, but where the creators earn by selling printed books and merchandise (and a bit through banner ads).

  9. Tom Watson 1
    Happy

    Great article

    A joy to read - thanks!

  10. Gav
    Holmes

    Obvious behaviour

    Simple fact is that good software makes it look easy. And in the mind of end users, if it looks easy, then it must have been easy to create. And it looks easy because, well, what it's doing is obvious, real-life behaviour, isn't it?

    I remember helping out an end user once on an application I had written. As an aside, she gleefully demonstrated a neat drag and drop shortcut she had discovered by accident. She showed it as if it may be news to me, like it was a fortunate chance that this was possible. I had to explain that, yes, I knew you could do that. I had coded that. I had, in fact, spent some time designing that. These things just don't happen by chance. But in the end-user's mind, because dropping one thing on another is obvious real-life behaviour then, naturally, it would work the same on the computer. So how hard could that be to code?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "I don't know British law, but in Danish law, programming is an explicit exception to the rule that creators automatically keep the rights to their work."

      Are you talking about this in an employment context or in general? I'd be really surprised if, in general, an individual had to actually assert their claim to copyright in a formal way over a work (more than just noting it in the source code), especially given that Denmark is likely to be a party to a bunch of treaties about this kind of thing.

      1. Torben Mogensen

        Only in employment context.

  11. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    meteoric rise?

    There has been no such rise in my lifetime. The colouring-in brigade have *always* had more recognition. The general public have always had more engagement with people who were doing jobs they could understand. The downside for them is that this same understanding also leads to the "my six-year-old could do that" retort, which is only justifed in 99% of cases.

    Oh, and software is hardly unique. All branches of science and engineering are extremely creative. That's why most people can't do it. Ironically, most of the creativity stems from the need to conform to various constraints, like those pesky laws of Nature. Those "artists" who just sprinkle paint on the floor prove this, even as they reject it.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Contradictory article

    My attention was grabbed by the title and leading paragraphs of this article. It's a horrible truth that design and creativity is vastly under-appreciated in our society, even deprecated to an extent. Management, financial services, and marketing seem to be the big winners, all activities that produce nothing and pay huge rewards. The creatives who the engine for these activities are ignored and unappreciated.

    Nor do many appreciate the effort that goes into breaking down complex tasks into simple concepts. It's like coding itself - a huge volume of unthinkingly bashed-out code (that will be a nightmare later on) will make a much greater impression than a much smaller set of carefully crafted modules that are robust, forward-looking, and a joy to use. It's too easy to make superficial judgments that fail to appreciate the beauty of a concise, simple solution. To that extent, I am in full agreement with the author. But then he joins the very people he criticises, writing things like,

    Quote: "...Steve Jobs, undeniably an astute businessman, but a man whose main personal innovation appears to have been to make some previously matte products shiny..."

    And so we fall right back to dismissing something based on what we see on the surface. Steve Jobs probably designed very little of what came out of Apple, but he recognised, fostered, and developed people who could. How else would we know about people like Jonathan Ive? If you care to look carefully at everything Apple produces, it becomes very clear that someone has thought long and hard about every, single detail, from the packaging to the tiniest features of the user interface. And the very people who should recognise that effort often fall into the same trap, branding it as "obvious", "dumbed-down", or - a favourite - "shiny". Sad to see this article fall into the same pit.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Reflects exactly how I feel

    Great article. Probably reflects exactly why I feel so depressed about my career as a software developer these days.

  14. unintentional

    Or to put it another way

    Programming is a poetry for our time?

    http://mjhibbett.co.uk/songs/song.php?filename=programmingisapoetryforourtime

    1. Craigness

      Ive

      You've heard about Jonathan Ive because Apple wanted you to; making him famous is a marketing thing. By putting some of their designers into the limelight they give the impression that their products have been designed, thought about at every level etc. But moreover, they want you to fall into the trap of thinking that other companies don't do this if they don't have famous designers, or that the design of the packaging is worth an extra $50 on the purchase price if someone famous is involved.

      The design brief for Apple staff is "make it rectangular" and they succeed every time. If they had "make the best product you can" as their goal then the Apple store would look as random and disjointed as the Sony Centre, instead of the uniform paradise of blandness which it is.

      1. Sean Baggaley 1
        FAIL

        Riiiight.

        You keep telling yourself that it's *all* about marketing. Never mind that Apple came back from near-bankruptcy and a microscopic marketing budget, yet somehow managed to conquer a bunch of markets *despite* having much smaller R&D, production and marketing teams than the likes of Sony, Microsoft and Nokia.

        Your notion that any company would be idiotic enough to "make the best product you can" without imposing *any* limitations on bill of materials or time is also utterly ludicrous. It's impossible to fulfil that brief without at least the time constraint as technology is constantly improving: when do you draw the cut-off line and actually *ship* your product?

        All those products had to be manufactured, shipped, and sold. And these steps had to be completed within a certain period too. Jobs himself used to say that "real artists ship!" But he also wasn't above canning a project that clearly wasn't working either. (And, of course, he wasn't perfect in his judgement either: G4 Cube, anyone?)

        Yes, most things Jobs did involved marketing at some level, but he was undeniably an aesthete too: design and form *mattered* to him, at a very deep level. (That he was arrogant and didn't suffer fools gladly either is irrelevant: most successful CEOs display those traits. Jobs was hardly unique there.)

        As for your "make it rectangular" crack: have you forgotten what the first few iMac and iBook generations looked like?

  15. Richard IV
    Coat

    Girls in bars

    ...just don't like being treated like objects.

    her.Slap(his.Face)

  16. waarg
    Thumb Up

    Hear hear

    Us devs, we're just button pressers, dontcha know. We just implement the vision of the geniuses further up the heirarchy, whose brilliance we cannot even begin to comprehend.

    A great bit of writing, and some excellent points.

  17. John Styles

    To my mind..

    ... the mistake was to let the 'civilians' know about high level languages. We should have gone with robes, pointy hats and keeping the existance of the high level languages secret. Let the punters think we are all writing machine code (I deliberately say machine code not assembler), when really we are using C++ or whatever.

    Painful death to any guild members who blab.

  18. Blofeld's Cat
    Unhappy

    Art not science

    For the past >mumble< years I've always insisted that software development was an art not a science.

    I have always been interested in watercolour painting, and would like very much to do it. I understand colours, I understand the basics of composition. I have even gone on weekend courses.

    It is clear that I have no talent whatsoever in that area and *never* will have. I just do not have the necessary vital spark to do it.

    This is the same for software development. You can teach (as I used to) some people a programming language, you can even teach them the underlying principles of programming, but they still won't be able to do it.

    No amount of training will *ever* get them beyond the basics. They just don't think the right way. They have learned it, but not understood it.

    Given enough training, most people can churn out blocks of code that do what is needed, usually in an inefficient, formulaic manner. When you ask them why they implemented something in a particular way, they will nearly always mumble something like "that's how they were taught".

    Ask them to modify (or even document) somebody else's code and they are lost Usually they will simply rewrite the function from scratch, rather than build on the existing code.

    Unfortunately most project managers see "developers" as interchangeable blocks on their chart, and "programming" as something that anyone can do with the right training.

    /rant

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Eric O'Brien

      As many others

      "No amount of training will *ever* get them beyond the basics. They just don't think the right way. They have learned it, but not understood it." ... I fear that a good percentage of the people of any "profession" might be described that way. Medical Doctors, Auto Mechanics, Psychologists, Massage Therapists, Dentists, Plumbers... a large portion of any group like that does fail to "have the necessary vital spark" for the discipline they've ended up practicing. You might not even notice the dimness until you've gone through a number of normal (mediocre) folks and then happened on someone whose level of skill stands out dramatically. Wow!

  19. Eddie Edwards
    Gimp

    U+2665

    I was thinking last night, that my irritating and arrogant comments about mistakes in the prose have been getting less frequent of late. Then it hit me - El Reg has improved. The quality has simply gone up. And in a world where this usually happens in reverse, it's good to see.

    Looks like I need another outlet for my pedantry, though ...

  20. AndrueC Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    I think I'll refer to this article at my next appraisal. Or perhaps not - depends whether I think getting more notice from management is a good idea or not :)

    Good article though.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    reality check

    Certainly a lot of stirring going on there!

    However I must confess my greatest pleasure as a developer is to deliver something where the user has *no idea* of the complexity behind the scenes. And to be honest I value the colouring-in types as they add something to the end-product that I can't contribute - if heads can be banged together for long enough there is a good chance that developers and "visual" creatives can together produce something that is reliable, loaded with functionality, and sublimely easy to use (because it doesn't rely on the end-users nearly nonexistent logical faculties).

    I get a huge kick from seeing something I wrote 10 years ago still out there, quietly doing its job... and knowing that no-one is looking to find the low-life that wrote it.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Speaking with my QA hat on (and asbestos suit) maybe things would be different if the vast majority of developers nowadays were actually, you know, *developing* rather than plugging in other peoples solutions from stackoverflow and suchlike.

    It might also help if most developers could actually design simple and easy to use software on their own. Although most of you seem to think you have god like powers in this respect, producing magical life changing software that a baby could use I'm sorry to say that no, most of you don't, which is unsurprising given the fundamentally autistic nature of the majority in this field. Most just chuck in options and parameters with the unspoken assumption that if they know how it works and what little workarounds and tweaks are needed then their end customers will. Bit of a heads up here, if the QA people have trouble working out how your software works you can be certain the end customer will be completely bamboozled.

    And while I'm working up a head of rant, having worked in mobile telecoms for over a decade it might also help if you coders actually tried running software on target when you think it's ready rather than just whizzing through on an emulator then chucking it over to mel. Seriously, try putting it on a device and just checking the basics works, it'll save me having to do it for you and then pissing you off when I tell you, for example, that , your app launches a grey screen that than a map and there's no point in me testing it. And please don't take it personally when I tell you your software is broken, I didn't brake it, I just discovered how crap it was, *you* broke it when you made, having a hissy fit at me just makes you look like a twat.

    I was on a contract setting up a QA department a few months back in company that had been previously developer driven in terms of design and implementation and when I tried to introduce the concept of release notes to senior developers all I got was a room full of people looking at their feet and an anguished cry of "But we're artists!". Yeah, they're artists now, drawing the dole after the company when down.

    AC cos I still have to work with you guys

    1. Graham Dawson

      "given the fundamentally autistic nature of the majority in this field."

      You lost me there mate, which is a shame, as you were making some sense.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yes

      An article that tells software developers that they are under appreciated will be read approvingly by software developers.

      The software developers at our firm churn out shite, do so slowly, do not listen to feature requests, and do not act on bug reports. They think they know best. They actually need 'a creative' to fucking tell them what is best.

      1. Frank Fisher
        Thumb Up

        Cynic

        "An article that tells software developers that they are under appreciated will be read approvingly by software developers"

        Hey, I may be sneaky but i'm not daft!

  23. mjwalshe

    Drink!, Fortran! Girls!

    If you think IT types drink you havn't seen Civils or Chemical Engineers. I once over heard a semi serious convesations at a major (top 5) Consulting engineers i wokred at about the best computer cleaning fluids to make bootleg booze from.

    1. Graham Dawson

      And?

      What did they decide in the end?

      1. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD
        Pint

        Graham....

        DeOxit of course.... duh! Don't you like the aftertaste?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Engineers were always the biggest drinkers at my university.

  24. LonelyRobot

    Hello World Haiku

    In and out of days

    Toil for that binary 'Hi'

    Relief. 'Hello World'

  25. Andrew Moore Silver badge

    Great article...

    Here in Ireland artists are entitled to tax-exemption (yes, even U2). I've always considered my code to be art so I am going to make a submission to the Irish Revenue and claim artists exemption.

    I'll let you know how I get on.

    1. Frank Fisher
      Thumb Up

      I agree totally.

      Feel free to fly me out as an expert witness..

      1. Andrew Moore Silver badge

        I might take you up on that Frank...

  26. Spender
    Happy

    the people who built our world are dismissed as geeks and bottom feeders?

    I think somebody has self-esteem issues.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pirates

    I guess many people pirate software as they don't see it as creative.

    Me, I'm the opposite.. I'm a creative-commie who thinks all creatives should be free for personal use - so songs and films should be open source just the same way as software

    Great article which hits the nail on the head though.

    1. Jean-Luc Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      @Pirates

      Luckily, they do see musicians as creatives, so they don't pirate music.

      Oh, wait...

  28. Fibbles

    Graphic Designer / Illustrator here...

    Any chance you can stop reducing my job to paint by numbers? It's pretty insulting and shows a complete lack of knowledge about the field. Graphic design is not a job everyone can do despite your suggestion. I'm not paid minimum wage and my colleagues are not doing this job because they couldn't get work at the tesco checkout.

    If programmers want to call themselves creatives nobody is going to stop them. Personally though I've always hated the term. It tends to be used by managers who like to explain away what I do as the result of some sort of magical power that i've been imbued with. I'd much rather they recognise the years of hard work and practice that have gotten my skills to this point.

    If you want people to have respect for your profession maybe you could stop being so damn condescending about everyone else's?

    1. Frank Fisher
      Flame

      Oh?

      "Any chance you can stop reducing my job to paint by numbers? It's pretty insulting and shows a complete lack of knowledge about the field."

      Oh you use paint? So sorry, you're clearly a step up the ladder. My insults were aimed at the crayoners.

      In all seriousness, I would *hate* to do your job. sitting there with some halfwit peering over your shoulder asking for everything to be pinker, redder, bluer, and everything bigger than everything else? God no.

  29. Bassey

    Wholly Crap

    A bunch of so-called "Developers" (I still call myself a programmer) whining about their feelings and how society misunderstands them. For christs sake. It's like the bastard child of Twighlight and Loose Women.

    Grow a pair!

  30. James Micallef Silver badge
    Coat

    "The focus is on sensory input "

    Correct and rightly so. A good, intuitive interface, that shows all the information needed, hides the unneeded and can be operated without needing an instruction manual is indeed a work of art. As indeed can be a program, app etc.

    However (1) the beauty isn't inherent in the 1s and 0s, the beauty is in the sensory input provided to the end user. Most laymen can't see the brilliance of a van Gogh painting by looking at the dots while maybe an artist can really appreciate that. Similairly I can't expect a consumer to see any beauty in my code, even though a coder might see that.

    and (2) Pretty much all software nowadays is developed by teams, customers can only recognise and show appreciation to individuals, hence the Jobs-worship. But I reckon that if instead of chatting up a lady in a bar with OOP, you point at her shiny-shiny and say 'I built that' it would have a more positive effect. Or maybe not

    1. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD

      The focus in sensory input...

      The reality is function.

      How many items we use today contain code? From lowly digital watches to tomahawk cruise missiles?

      I find it constantly amazing that GPS works at all.

      To look at something just a second time and think to yourself on reflection, omg how the f@# does it do that?

      Think about that.

      In our noisy microwave environment, mobile phone networks, wireless LANS etc... lots of devices all within quite a relatively narrow band.That's all amazing stuff people just don't see... Who keeps your flybywire planes in the air? Your electronic ignition system going in your car? Your digital TV? Your pacemaker going?

      Now that is beauty.

      Who are the coders behind all these feats? Hint: Not Apple. Not M$.

      They are not visible. But they are there. Trust me.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Completely agreed with Fibbles. Mostly a good article here, but there's one point here that I *really* take issue with:

    "graphic designers [...]; a troupe of ne’r do wells who pinch from a Google image search and spend the rest of their day colouring-in."

    "a person whose greatest educational achievement is crayoning without going over the lines"

    Utter bovine excrement. From an article that's bemoaning the lack of public understanding of programming, presenting art & design as the work of a bunch of uneducated, unskilled idiots displays a pretty shocking lack of understanding of the artistic process, and not a small amount of hypocrisy.

    Speaking as a former developer who has recently moved from the world of software architecture to the greener pastures of the artistic world, this is a huge misrepresentation. You get unskilled idiots in any industry, including programming (you know; those people who "don't quite get it" and seem to cause vastly more bugs than they ever fix). In the same way that getting software design right is difficult, have a go at producing a decent, expressive life drawing, or try to come up with a decent product logo (must work in all sizes, all manner of stationary, different backgrounds, must fit on our website, fit references to Metallica in it, and could you pleeease incorporate that magic shade of pink my daughter loves so much?). Believe me - art design just as hard as software design! Comparing art to colouring in images nicked from Google is like comparing coding to copy/pasting from StackOverflow.

    I could equally point to an opposite trend in games and films, where the media and general public are all very happy to faun over programmers and technology like motion capture, but are generally unaware what a poor technology it actually is, and how many artists are required to correct/enhance and sometimes completely replace the nonsense that comes out of a mocap suite before it's ready for viewing by the public.

    In short, there's a balance to be had here. Certainly there are times where programmers don't get the recognition they deserve, but then again, neither do artists. This article to me seems to fall into exactly the same trap that it's bemoaning. :(

    1. Frank Fisher

      Designers are artists?

      I draw (geddit?) a pretty obvious distinction there. Yes, some graphic designers genuinely are artists - I worked with one who has now moved from p/shop to oils and is terrific.

      Most are tinkerers.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        You are a complete fucking tool

        Is the internet really running out of inarticulate "coding is art" whining ? I'd not noticed any shortage in supply - though most are written without the repellant "indignant martyr" pov.

  32. John G Imrie Silver badge

    Why I hate marketing.

    'And the wheel,' said the Captain, 'what about this wheel thingy? It sounds a terribly interesting project.'

    'Ah,' said the marketing girl, 'well, we're having a little difficulty there.'

    'Difficulty?' exclaimed Ford. 'Difficulty? What do you mean difficulty? It's the single simplest machine in the entire Universe!'

    The marketing girl soured him with a look.

    'All right, Mr Wiseguy,' she said, 'you're so clever, you tell us what colour it should be.'

    - The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, Douglas Adams

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Completely agree with Fibbles above - there's one point here that I really take issue with:

    "graphic designers [...]; a troupe of ne’r do wells who pinch from a Google image search and spend the rest of their day colouring-in."

    "a person whose greatest educational achievement is crayoning without going over the lines"

    Utter bovine excrement. From an article that's bemoaning a lack of public understanding of programming, presenting art & design as the work of a bunch of uneducated, unskilled idiots displays a pretty shocking lack of understanding of the artistic process, and not a small amount of hypocrisy.

    Speaking as a former developer who has recently moved from the world of software architecture to the greener pastures of the artistic world, you get unskilled idiots in any industry, including programming (you know; those people who "don't quite get it" and seem to cause vastly more bugs than they ever fix). In the same way that getting software design right is difficult, try producing a decent, expressive life drawing, or try to come up with a decent product logo (must work in all sizes, all manner of stationary, different backgrounds, must fit on our website, fit references to Metallica in it, and could you pleeease incorporate that magic shade of pink my daughter loves so much?). Believe me - art design is just as hard as software design! Comparing art to colouring in images nicked from Google is like comparing coding to copy/pasting from Stack Overflow.

    I could equally point to an opposite trend in games and films, where the media and general public are all very happy to faun over programmers and technology like motion capture, but are generally unaware what a poor technology it actually is, and how many artists are required to correct/enhance and sometimes completely replace the nonsense that comes out of a mocap suite before it's ready for viewing by the public.

    In short, there's a balance to be had here. Certainly there are times where programmers don't get the recognition they deserve, but then again, the same's also true of artists. This article to me seems to fall into exactly the same trap that it's bemoaning. :(

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Well written

    And very true. Sad, but true. Seems that an elite few can call themselves 'creatives' when there is more going on than meets the eye and is hidden behind corporate crushed velvet curtains. Keep up the quality FF.

  35. adrianww

    Well...

    ...on the one hand, I can see where this article is coming from and largely agree with a lot of what it says.

    On the other hand, it uses the word "mature" at one point, implying that the IT or sofrware development industry may have reached that level. I'm not sure that I agree with that. I also don't really agree with the term "software engineer" either (even though I've been saddled with the title myself in the past).

    Why the nit-picking? Simple. On most of the products and projects that I worked on over the years, the last words that I would have used to describe the processes used or the end results were "mature" or "engineered". Admittedly, this was often in spite of the best efforts of the designers and developers to try to make them that way, but the painful truth was that most things ended up being best described as "shoddy lashups that should just about work so long as the wind doesn't change". This was usually as a result of badly managed user requirements, incompetent project management and a general cocked-up-ness in the whole way in which the software industry goes about what it does. But that's to be expected - the industry is still very, very young and has had to come a long way in a very short time.

    However, as far as "mature" or "engineering" are concerned, I think that the IT industry still has a long way to go. Yes, a lot has been achieved and we can all be proud of doing some pretty amazing things over the years, but if the civil, chemical and mechanical engineering communities were as "mature" as computer and software development, we'd all be spending 90-odd per cent of our time rebuilding collapsed houses, running away from flood waters released by failed dams, admiring the pretty colours from exploding chemical plants, falling into rivers off wobbly bridges, scanning the sky for plummeting blazing aircraft and picking up all the gaskets, pistons and camshafts that our car engines scatter across the road every time we drive them more than 50 or 60 yards.

  36. Steve the Cynic Silver badge

    False dichotomy.

    Which false dichotomy is that? The art-versus-craft one, that's what.

    Most people (I'm not one of them, mind) would tell you that, for example, oil painting lies on the art side of the split, while programming (by whatever name you give it) lies on the craft side of the split.

    Some people attack the dilemma by denying that programming is craft. Cobblers. Or, rather, not cobblers, but a totally inadequate response.

    The truth is that the split is an illusion. In the ancient world, it certainly was. Our very word for what we produce, "technology", has at its heart an ancient Greek word, transcribed in the Latin alphabet as "techne" or "tekhne", that meant nothing more than "art".

    So of course what I do is craft, and it is also art, because they are one and the same. Whether we call the craft craft, or engineering, or whatever, it is still art.

    So I am an artist, and damned proud of it, just as I am a craftsman. The oil-painter's problem is that he has a blank canvas and racks full of paints, brushes, and so on, and someone wants a painting. My problem is that I have editors and compilers, linkers and debuggers, and someone wants a program. Progressing from the one to the other is applying at the same time of the art and the craft either of painting (the painter) or programming (me).

    But the graphic designer also produces art, and craft.

    Because, remember, the two things are one and the same. If you call the one a "creative" and the other a "developer" you are missing the point.

    Your opinion may vary, but if it does, you are wrong.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Its Craft not Art, but it is creative

    And in the main, for what we do, its not engineering either.

    Craft like those cathedral builders of old, we have plans and experience, we can get the artistic masons to put a pretty face on it, but we do not use all the mathematics to make sure what we build is 100% correct. We do try to meet our patrons specifications, even if they change their minds while we are building their church.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good code need polished graphics too!

    I've seen too many clever coders write 'optimal' code and 'elegant' data flows, and then front it with a cluster-fuck of nightmarish graphics, counter-intuitive interfaces, and user-UNfriendly presentation.

    Whilst I admire coders who create applications, I don't want their elbow-patched, anoraked natures pushing their view that "the users need to use the application the way I want them to"' , paying no heed to the need of users who require elegant form as well as elegant coding.

  39. Sean Baggaley 1
    WTF?

    I've worked in multiple fields, including art *and* development.

    I.e. I've been on both sides of what some people appear to believe is a fence.

    I've done graphic design (everything from multilingual brochures and leaflets to websites), as well as animated sprites and tiles back in the days of Rainbird / OCP's "Art Studio" for the Atari ST.

    I've also coded (in assembly language, among others) actual, published, video games too.

    These days, I make my living as a translator and technical author.

    Programming is a craft, like any other.

    Graphic design is also a craft.

    This notion we have today of "Art" vs. craft is a relatively recent invention that didn't really exist prior to the 1800s. Michelangelo didn't consider himself as anything other than an interior decorator. In fact, "art" is an abbreviation of "artisan", which is synonymous with "craftsman".

    @Frank Fisher: Your broad—and, frankly, insulting—generalisations and descriptions of what you *think* artists do all day do not help your argument. If anything, they undermine it. You accuse the ignorant masses of not realising how much work is involved in programming, yet people are pirating music and movies far more often than software. Do you think a successful blockbuster movie costs pennies to make and is produced by a bunch of lazy good-for-nothings who do little more than "colour in" celluloid frames with crayon? I suspect not. Yet you're including all those people in your crass generalisation.

    The fundamental problem is that, without form, there can *be* no function. Similarly, without function, there can be no form. You need BOTH. In equal measure. THAT was, is, and forever will be Apple's "secret sauce". It's not that Jobs *relegated* the technology to second place. It's that Apple *combined* both art and design to produce products that were greater than the sum of their parts.

    If you want to know what programmers create when left to their own devices, I give you the GNU / Linux community. Their work does very well in traditionally 'techie' markets, such as servers and embedded platforms, but they have never, ever, managed to make any kind of dent in the *consumer* sector. Why? Because they haven't a bloody clue about consistency and interface design.

    Making complex systems easy to interface with is bloody hard work. It is NOT trivial. Apple's approach is that of a painter or sculptor: knowing what to leave *out*. Because the more "stuff" you nail on, the more complicated and scary the customer will think it is. And no amount of advertising will help you there.

    1. Frank Fisher

      yes but

      Sean, I'd just make a couple of responses to that; firstly, are you really telling me anything more than a tiny percentage of designers are actually artists? I really can't see any definition of 'art' that encompasses "we don't want empty space, we want branding!". I said upthread, I couldn't do that job - sat there at a Mac with some know-nothing account director at your shoulder proding every pixel of 'design'... that ain't art. It CAN be, sure, but how often is it?

      UIs - good point, but how it looks is, IMO, trivial compared to how it works, how it *feels*, and that's about the software and, to a greater extent right now, the hardware. They're not called fondleslabs because of how they look.

      And criticise Linux... but then what do you say about Ubuntu?

  40. Sinick

    "Wah wah wah nobody appreciates my beautiful code!"

    GOOD! THAT IS EXACTLY HOW IT SHOULD BE!

    Users don't owe coders appreciation, any more than drivers owe car plant workers appreciation.

    Car plant workers/car designers etc. are doing the job they're being paid for PROPERLY if the car doesn't break down, and the driver doesn't have to know everything about what's going on under the hood to make the damn thing go. Drivers just want to get from point A to point B, and THAT IS FINE.

    Similarly, coders are doing the job they're being paid for PROPERLY if the software doesn't break down and the user doesn't have to think about the code.

    By your own argument, if you don't blueprint your own engines OMG YOU DON'T DESERVE TO DRIVE!

    No, dear, coders are not Super Special Snowflakes. Their salaries are ultimately being paid by the users, and they are employed to meet the users' needs. The users care about getting their job done, not about code. Code is your job, not theirs. Deal with it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Users don't owe coders appreciation, any more than drivers owe car plant workers appreciation."

      What about car /designers/? By which I refer to more than just mere aesthetics but to the sum of the the whole car experience. Appreciated I believe they should be and indeed are! Aren't there television shows that extol those virtues?

      So, when can we expect mainstream television series that obsess over well implemented software? No gonna happen due to the Eloi caste's incomprehension of the finer details and their significance :-( Still, it was always going the be that way and anyone in the industry shouldn't really be surprised.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Your Title Here

    "Developers" aren't appreciated as much as "creatives"? It's been my experience that developers are always paid significantly more than graphic designers or product managers. Many an engineer in our organization has asked about moving over to product management, only to discover they would have to take a pay cut to do so.

  42. disgruntled yank Silver badge

    unsatisfactory

    Is this supposed to butter up a readership still smarting from Dominic Connor's thrashings? If so, it could use some work.

    In particular, the author could distinguish different sorts of design, say the one "make the cover mauve" from the one that draws up UI guidelines. He could also compare the salaries for graphic designer to those for programmers, and make very sure that he's not comparing a PFY PHP newbie to the principal at a design shop. And furthermore,

    "Our society is moving from one in which the educated took pride in knowing how the world worked to a more blinkered place; today, it’s about how you feel."

    And this would have been when, and for whose definition of educated? if the latter means "having college degrees", perhaps that is so. Yet I can remembers hordes years ago getting the diploma without knowing squat about anything in particular. I didn't go to a great school, but evidence suggests that such things happened elsewhere.

    "Granted, in the UK today it's hard to find many under-forties who wouldn't be considered alcoholics in the US..."

    Well, if you do your research in pubs I suppose that might be the case. Props to you for an engineer's precision of statement.

    "It’s not just about reward – self-perception of status rarely hinges on salary."

    Perhaps, but you might want to check with Mr. Connor on this one.

  43. Long John Brass Silver badge
    Pint

    Yesterday I couldn't spell Enginear now I are one

    I've been over the years; Code monkey, Network grunt, Sys Admin and a few more swear words besides. What I've learned is this ...

    In IT if you've done your job right, you are invisible; If the people up the food chain know you exist it's because you've fucked up.

    You are only as good as your last biggest fuckup; The powers that be never remember the 40 hours straight you put in, or the novel solution to whatever the problem of the day was

    No they only remember you killed the e-mail server at 9:30 yesterday morning

    Infrastructure is boring to most people, they don't care about the effort that goes into roads, water, sewage, ATM's etc; they only care when it doesn't work and when it doesn't work it's all your fault; never mind they would rather spend vast amounts of cash to big up their own glory but never on the infrastructure that keeps them safe happy & warm.

    I think Neal Stephenson had it right, Engineers & Scientists are Dwarves and the media studies types are the Elves, they may prance & frolic in the forests & the sunshine; but if you want something done and done right, you hire a Dwarf

    I may not have a degree that says engineer on it; I've just been doing it for 20+ years

    1. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD
      Thumb Up

      QFT

      ^ this

  44. mark 63 Silver badge
    Joke

    nail "Technician" ?

    Anybody who uses the term 'workshop' who's not connected with light engineering , is a TWAT!!

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Poor little dork

    Fook me, a dozen or so paragraphs of piteously whining dork bleating about how creative he thinks he is. You're a bricklayer, nothing more. Sure there's good and bad ones and the good ones are worth more than the bad ones but in the end you work to other people's designs and build other people's buildings.

    If you had any creative talent you'd be an architect.

    There's no icon for something this tragic ..

  46. Jean-Luc Silver badge
    Happy

    Why all the fuss?

    #1 An acquaintance, who only briefly pursued a coding career, said it best:

    "It's a rush to be solving puzzles all day for a living".

    #2 I would probably be happy doing what I do for less pay, if that is what the market offered. Shhhh... don't tell my employer. As it is, the market rate does pay rather well.

    Less so than the average wanker in an investment bank, but so be it.

    I don't feel particularly ill-treated in my place in society. Sure, won't pick up too many girls quoting Python design patterns, but otherwise... lots of people hate their career, not just their current employer. I am happy with what I do and I suspect the better programmers are those who enjoy their work.

    Oh, and I call myself a programmer. Not a software engineer, developer, etc... Joe Average understands "programmer" just fine and inflated titles do seem rather whiny to me.

  47. Christopher O'Neill
    Terminator

    Whilst inflating their own egos, most coders seem to have forgotten the real people who make all this amazing technology work - the hardware engineers.

  48. Dalen
    Thumb Up

    Did someone say haiku?

    #include <iostream>

    public void main () { //Begin here

    cout << "Hello, World!"; }

  49. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

    Teacup, meet tempest

    Who, exactly, is out there making a serious, substantive claim that coders aren't creative? I think all the academic work on the subject that I've seen (and that's quite a lot) acknowledges, and in many cases analyzes in some detail, the creative aspects of writing software.

    I don't know who's torqued Fisher's unmentionables on this, but my suspicion is that it's no one worth listening to - much less waxing bathetic (and, as other commentators have noted, occasionally offensive) about.

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