Comfort coding

As I began to teach my graduate class this evening, I remarked that it had been a very long day, and that I had only managed to get through it without complete burn-out because I had taken time to do some programming.

Many of the students laughed, so I thought it would be useful to explain. So many things in the course of your day are beyond your control, I said, including incoming emails, looming deadlines, and other people’s behavior at meetings, to mention just a few.

But when you program, that’s just between you and yourself. It’s a world that you yourself create, and that you can steer into any direction you want.

One of the students objected on very reasonable grounds. “What about bugs you can’t catch?” he asked.

I explained that I’m talking about programming you do to help you relax. Nothing outrageously complex, no giant code base or tricky mathematical algorithm that you don’t completely understand.

Rather, I relax by picking a programming task that is manageable, something challenging enough to be interesting, but easily doable within an afternoon. Comfort coding, if you will.

Once the students understood what I was talking about, they agreed. Everyone does it within their own domain. The chef who makes a simple dish to relax, the songwriter who tosses off a little ditty between sets, we all have our own version of comfort coding.

One Response to “Comfort coding”

  1. J. Peterson says:

    I know exactly the feeling – writing scripts to automate odd tasks, that in all honesty, would take the same amount of time (or less) to just do by hand.

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