Old Programmers

Seems like I’ve been reading a lot of conversation about when you become too old to be a good programmer. I’ve even seen someone ask, with apparent sincerity, if 26 was too old. Of course anyone with any sense realizes that the answer is “Never!” As I’ve watched how my own performance has changed over the years, there have been a few obvious changes.

  • I am way less likely to chase after the “shiny new thing”. New stuff needs to have some demonstrated advantage over the pre-existing way of doing the same thing. (And, with very few exceptions, it has all been done before.)
  • My memory is way worse than it used to be. Holding all the details in my head at once can sometimes be more difficult than it used to be. As a result, I really strive for simpler code.
  • I don’t want to be a manager. Been there. Done that. Would rather code. There seems to be a stigma associated with not becoming a manager. Not sure why though.
  • More creative than I used to be. Can come up with way more ways to accomplish a task or new functions to add.
  • Better debugger. Have seen enough errors and their outcomes to be relatively quick about finding problems.
  • Much better at testing. I can usually think of many more corner cases than before and actually test that they are covered.
  • I dislike process even more than I used to, but now understand the reasons it can be required.
  • This biggest difference is that I make many fewer mistakes. I think this comes from being better able to imagine all the different ways that things can go wrong.

So, better at getting stuff done and generating quality code.