What's better than writing code?
January 07, 2018
On a day-to-day basis, as a software engineer, I spend a lot of time doing non-technical tasks. This is of course the nature of the career; you’re not only going to be interfacing with computers.
Of course with that in mind, I absolutely love the technical aspects of my job and revel in the days where I can purely do technical things. Writing code is one of the most creative aspects of being a software engineer. It’s a lovely mixture of craft and engineering, but it’s not the only fun purely technical aspect of my job. There are a few things that I like doing even more than writing code.
While writing code may be the most fun aspect of your career as a young software engineer, as you grow into a more seasoned engineer, you quickly discover that deleting code can be even more fun. Deleting code is rewarding partially because there’s a lot of stigma in the industry around being able to crank out tons of code in a day. This is of course counter to the nature of software development. Writing more code means you’re introducing more surface area, and potentially more bugs, from a business perspective, this isn’t always a good thing.
Having a net negative count for the lines of code you wrote for the day often means that you’ve helped both your future self and the future versions of your colleagues by reducing the total footprint of your software project. This is of course, an acquired taste that you really only learn to enjoy after having worked in large software project for some period of time. The smaller the code base, the more refined your code is and the easier it is to change the direction it’s going with less energy. Those moments wherein you stumble upon on an unused, undocumented 300 line function are rare, but when you can excise this function without impacting the rest of the product, it’s one of the most blissful sensations that you can experience.
Deprecating old browsers
This is something that only web developers can really appreciate. While I may be considered a young ‘un as far as it goes for the web development timeframe (phew no IE6 support), working within the healthcare industry has given me some good experience with managing supporting old browsers (IE7-IE9) and even at TSheets I helped to lead the latest push to get rid of IE10 support. With babel and webpack along with the whole transpiling (let’s be real it’s compiling people) scene this has become less of an issue. Even then, there’s nothing like getting a pesky bug ticket from one of your loyal customers who just so happens to be using the oldest browser that your product supports.
I still remember spending days as an intern at WhiteCloud Analytics hunting down an extra comma, or dealing with some sort of esoteric svg bug caused by IE7 or IE8. So there’s nothing like getting an email sent out from marketing to the remaining customers that are still hanging on to an outdated browser.
Written by Blake Dietz who lives and works in Boise, ID and loves tinkering in his spare time. Follow him on twitter