So I was sitting in a workshop this morning as some of our IT people were rehearsing their presentations for Web 2007. It was a run through on XSLT (which I wanted to know more about anyway) and I was watching the presenter code on the screen.
What a beautiful thing.
I love well formatted code. You know, the organized stuff that is actually commented, and clear, and just… well, neat. In whatever sense you mean. It has been quite some time since I have actually hard coded anything real. My job right now is more about being a savvy Dreamweaver user and troubleshooting content problems and broken links in ANGEL than coding to create something legitimate. Like a database. Do you know, I am starting to crave ER diagrams. What’s the matter with me?
I would never survive as a legitimate full time programmer; I hate being stuck in a cubicle sixty hours a week, and need to be able to interact with people, if only enough so that I am not climbing the walls. (And somehow, I don’t think that’s what they mean by social programming.) I’ve never truly fit in with the hardcore programmers; not only does my brain NOT run screaming through if-then-else loops, but I also think too much about how it will look on the front end, and if we are actually creating what the end user needs, as opposed to what we (as programming gods) decide to give them. I learned quickly where my strengths lay during my IST imposed team-based learning (there were ALWAYS better coders on the teams, but not necessarily someone with an eye on project requirements and milestones). I carried the usability flag into the software development world, graybox testing code releases and then training the users and troubleshooting when it ran amok. Gradually I continued to be a half-step removed from the coding; I knew enough to fix a problem when I had to, but was never the “outside the box” programmer who transformed thought into code.
But as I sat watching the screen, I felt myself being lulled into that old, comforting feeling as I watched the code drop into place, tags opening and closing, being placed in their correct positioning. It is almost therapeutic in a sense. With color-coded enhancement offered by today’s programs, it is a far cry from the black screen and DOS prompt. And really, that’s the aspect of coding I appreciate the most–the aesthetic beauty of clean code that works.
My other quirk is that I think just as much about usability in the end result. I am equally comforted by the beauty of the output on the front end as I am with beauty on the back end, and I crave usability in design. I mean, after all, if a program is difficult, confusing, or downright ugly, then does the code really work?
A thing of beauty is a joy forever. At least until the next code release.