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What Is It Like To Be A Computer Programmer

Updated on June 23, 2011

The life of a computer programmer

What is involved when you are a computer programmer? What is the job like? Can anyone do it? These are a few of the questions that you might have if you are thinking of learning about technology. The computer programmer is a great job. There are lots of options and most every day on the job will be different. It isn't all glamor, to be sure. There may be hardly any glamor, actually. Depending on the organization, computer programmer jobs will be very important or somewhat menial. The computer programmer has an important role on projects. Their knowledge allows them to move into other areas such as design and analysis.

A programmer will often approach their work like an artist. The blank source document is waiting to accept a creation. There is often some artistry involved with a computer program. Given a design, there are usually several ways to execute the program. A good program will implement the design in an elegant way that is easy to understand and to modify. Good structured programming should be the goal of competent programmers. Better job performance and satisfaction will be the result.

Why Should You Learn How To Program A Computer?

Don't you just use templates and site builders anyway?

With the advances in technology, there is now less demand for computer programmers. This is due to the amount of programming that has been automated for most applications. In fact, many useful computer services can be delivered with virtually no custom programming at all. Consider a Squidoo lens. Using the workshop builder, you can build the framework of the lens, add custom text and images, add a poll and other interactive modules. The lens can be customized for better search engine performance. All with no programming. This is a major advance in the field. What you can do in 5 minutes now used to take a month. This is a great advance for computer technology but it doesn't eliminate the need for programming. The templates can't anticipate everything so there will always be a need for customization. The automatic builders are computer programs too. They need to be customized and extended. The computer programming job is not going away, but it is changing.

Like most topics, you should start at the beginning. In the case of computer programming, you need to learn a simple programming language. More importantly, you need to understand computer technology and program design. There are many programming languages to choose from, but a good knowledge of program design will be applicable to all of them. Design can be learned via diagram techniques and psuedo-code. This is the writing of computer programs using a syntax that isn't valid in any programming language but which is easily translated into a valid program in the target language.

A lot of computer programmers work with a major handicap. Their organizations are not strong in the areas of program specifications or design. That means that the computer programmer receives instructions that are unclear. Computer programs that are then developed based on the designs may not be correct. Sometimes, the programmer is given a basic introduction to the system requirements and they have to determine the design themselves. There was a popular joke written a long time ago:

Boss: I'll go talk to the users and get the requirements. You start programming until I get back.

This is, unfortunately, the way many organizations worked. The programmers knew that there were certain things to do so they started doing them. Hopefully they started working productively, but often they did not.

The first rule of computer programming is to get a final, approved design first.

Get Your Children Started As Well

You can learn together

Children now are exposed to more computers in their lives than ever before. They are constantly using technology. Do they know anything about it besides how to run applications provided by others? What if they have an idea for a great application, what should they do? Computer technology has had major advances in the past decades. There will be amazing advances to come. The youth of today will be the masters of the future computer technology field. By learning basic computer programming and design early, today's youth can establish themselves with great career opportunities in the future.

For most of the history of computers, the machines have been expensive and difficult to use. Now they are inexpensive and easy to use. The amount of software freely available is amazing. Children now have the ability to use very capable programs to accomplish their tasks. They can also start learning modern programming languages such as PHP, Python, Javascript, etc, and begin to craft the applications of the future.

If You_Have_Something_To_Say Then print it - That is a programming joke, (bad one)

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    • javr profile image

      javr 6 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      @LabKittyDesign: I'll agree with your comment about CEOs. As for change in technology, a lot of it has been for the better. Don't forget that most people now use SQL, a technology that has been around since the mid-1960s.

    • LabKittyDesign profile image

      LabKittyDesign 6 years ago

      We found the toughest part of programming professionally is the combination of 1) the technology is constantly changing and 2) CEOs believe things they read in Fortune and the WSJ and not what their engineers tell them.