"I can program!"

Credentials for using that sentence

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37 Replies - 5394 Views - Last Post: 16 October 2008 - 07:27 PM

#1 Techno Mage  Icon User is offline

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"I can program!"

Post icon  Posted 14 August 2008 - 10:34 AM

When someone says they can program, what do they have to be able to do besides compile stuff they copy pasta'd in order to truthfully tell others they can program? As in, what do you think they need to know before being able to officially say they can program.

I think they should have a grasp of the basics and have compiled something more than hello world without a step by step guide. Knowledge of any programming language, scripting language, or web design programming language besides HTML (I know it's not a programming language but you know what I mean) is necessary.

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Replies To: "I can program!"

#2 abgorn  Icon User is offline

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Re: "I can program!"

Posted 14 August 2008 - 11:56 AM

Mmmmm, it's hard to realy define it because it would be very opinionated. But I think someone to say "I can program" would have to have a fair understanding of the purpose of there chosen language and a understanding of the code so they can program a decent program (not "Hello World" inside a window).
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#3 baavgai  Icon User is online

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Re: "I can program!"

Posted 14 August 2008 - 12:35 PM

There are a vast array of activities that count as "programming" so it's no particularly easy to quantify. I think I could generalize it like this:

An individual should be able to sit down at their tool of choice and write a program in their language of choice without any aid from outside sources. The "program" should do something beyond the basic functionality of the tools they're using. In short, they must have created something new. That something should have an understandable use and function. They should then be able to justify their design choices and show reasonable understanding of the impact of those choices. If someone can't get that far, then they really can't program.
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#4 no2pencil  Icon User is online

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Re: "I can program!"

Posted 14 August 2008 - 12:49 PM

I tend to disagree (for probably the 1st time ever!) with baavgai. I think that someone whom understands computer logic (& methodology) is someone whom can program. They should be able to sit down in an unknown environment, with unknown tools, however with plentiful resources & information on the tools & environment & being able to create a program that accomplishes the desired task.
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#5 Winstinology  Icon User is offline

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Re: "I can program!"

Posted 14 August 2008 - 03:15 PM

I agree with you no2pencil. I think being able to say "I can program" should come only after you learn at least the logical and syntax fundamentals of 3 or 4 languages. To the point where you can go and pick up a book on a new language and learn it over the weekend. And as a programmer (for me any ways), I spend a part of each day (when I'm not on DIC) either reading print or online materials to learn something new to accomplish a new task that I may have. Being a programmer is being able to learn new methods in any way possible and being able to implement those learned methods in your environment.
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#6 Mikhail  Icon User is offline

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Re: "I can program!"

Posted 14 August 2008 - 04:59 PM

Hmm I both agree and disagree with no2, I think you can say "I can program!" When you know one language not multiple but as long as you know logic,patters and design of software. But just knowing the language doesn't mean that you can actually program. To actually program without help of books you need to have several years under your belt, otherwise you're just a person who knows a certain programming language.
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#7 JBrace1990  Icon User is offline

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Re: "I can program!"

Posted 14 August 2008 - 05:06 PM

tough topic... hmm...

I'd have to say that someone can consider themselves a programmer when the following details are met:

1. They have an understanding of a coding language.
2. They can use that language to produce useful programs.
3. Said language is dynamic (i wouldn't count HTML people as coders... it's too easy, you know?)
4. They have made something useful, have a complete understanding to how it works.
/* 5. Has made numerous attempts, and failed at least once =P */

*edits out 5* "what was that?" Oh nothing... =D
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#8 baavgai  Icon User is online

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Re: "I can program!"

Posted 14 August 2008 - 05:51 PM

View Postno2pencil, on 14 Aug, 2008 - 03:49 PM, said:

I tend to disagree (for probably the 1st time ever!) with baavgai.


Awww... actually, I agree with your definition as well. I'm not precluding a fundamental understanding of the basics, I can just never be sure of that someone has such understanding. Here's my reasoning.

It's is entirely possible to pass every class, pass every test, gather every certification, and still be useless in a real situation. I've long since given up putting any faith in someone's resume. I don't care if they can answer the questions adequately, only that they can apply their supposed wealth of knowledge.

The criteria I offered is based on actual performance rather than "certified" performance. Ideally, there would be some way to quantify an individual's level of knowledge and understanding. Currently, the only way I know that's reliable is actually giving someone a real world task and seeing how they fare. All the rest can be smoke.
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#9 jacobjordan  Icon User is offline

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Re: "I can program!"

Posted 14 August 2008 - 07:49 PM

To me, if someone can look at a simple C++ console application to do some simple thing (like take two numbers and add them togerther) and actually understand it, then he can program. I didn't say he was good, but he can program. I can play basketball. I royally suck at it, but i can play it because i know how to, it's as simple as that.
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#10 NickDMax  Icon User is offline

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Re: "I can program!"

Posted 14 August 2008 - 10:56 PM

I am a little stuck up with the term "programmer". There are many coders who are not programmers.

I think a good example of what I mean is a workflow modeler or a graphic flowchart modeler. Just point and click - drag and drop the logic components. Not syntax to worry about -- can you use such a system to solve problems?

I spend a good bit of my time helping "programmers" translate logic into these graphic diagrams and I am simply AMAZED at how difficult some "programmers" find it -- but ok, maybe they don't think very "visually".

I have always liked the analogy of programming as playing with legos -- can you take a bunch of abstract pieces (statements, functions, and abstract CS structures) and build something. Not just solve a problem, but solve a problem in such a way that you can plug it in to a larger solution.

This means that you have to be able to break a large problem up into smaller problems. You have to be able to spot what sub-problems fall into class where they have similar solutions that you can abstract etc.

Programming is a spacial form of problem solving and has nothing to do with languages or coding skills. You will find process engeneers who don't know a single language who can in a weekend learn a language and program -- you can find "programmers" who can't even imagine how to model a business process.
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#11 BenignDesign  Icon User is offline

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Re: "I can program!"

Posted 15 August 2008 - 12:46 AM

I prefer to be called a "code lackey" myself.

But I do agree with Nick on some level. For all technical purposes, I was "programmer" the moment I held my uber expensive piece of paper that said I had a degree in CS with a concentration in programming. And being a cocky, fresh-out-of-college kid, I firmly believed I was.

It took quite a few years, failed dreams and dead-end jobs before I finally realized and accepted that anyone who can finish college can be a "programmer"... but it takes a special level of dedication and lack of sun exposure to be a coder.
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#12 nirvanarupali  Icon User is offline

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Re: "I can program!"

Posted 15 August 2008 - 01:11 AM

I met many CS and IT grads but they cannot really do programming. As a result they end up to secretarial, sales executive, clerk etc. a position which is not CS related. Well, I don't know why.

For me, a person can be trully called a programmer, the moment he knows how to translate his ideas, other ideas into codes, and into executables which we call programs.The programmer is given everything what needs to be done and end point of the program, what this program look like, what this program suppose to do. Now its up to the programmer how to emplement it into codes.

If he can't, there's no way can he be called a programmer.
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#13 baavgai  Icon User is online

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Re: "I can program!"

Posted 15 August 2008 - 03:58 AM

View PostNickDMax, on 15 Aug, 2008 - 01:56 AM, said:

Programming is a spacial form of problem solving and has nothing to do with languages or coding skills.


I like this. I believe there are a number of mental elements that make someone a really good programmer and I don't honestly think they can be taught. Spacial acuity is absolutely one of them.

In high school I played a saxophone in the band. I was adequate, could learn the music, commit the fingerings to muscle memory and not stand out in any particular way during a performance. But I didn't have the knack for it, I was simply not a musician. I couldn't hear something and play it back or improv within a given set of parameters. Truth be told, in retrospect, I rather sucked at band. However, I could do the job of playing a piece I'd worked on well enough to cover my lack of talent.

I often feel that programming, or probably anything, is more talent based than we'd like to admit. Everyone if capable of preforming actions given enough training, but I don't believe you can teach the skill to do improvisation. I think real programming requires the ability, the talent, to fluidly assemble the notes of a tune barely heard or only imagined.
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#14 P4L  Icon User is offline

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Re: "I can program!"

Posted 15 August 2008 - 09:22 AM

But there those of us that "program" that aren't compiling programs. So what would you call them? I use SQL on a daily basis to find information, create tables, and such, but it is not compiled, nor is it on directly on a mainframe database all the time. Does that make me any less of a programmer that the next person? I think not. I think that for the fact that I can INTELLIGENTLY create SQL code, without a gui, and no matter how basic, allows me to be called a programmer. Grant it that I only use VB and SQL, but picked up very quickly in C, HTML, XML, XHTML, and XSL. To me what makes someone a "programmer" is that they understand the how, when, and why of whatever language they use, be it SQL or FORTRAN49 or C++. If the "code lackey" knows how to assemble the code so it operates as designed, knows when to use the different functions of the language, and why things have to be used in specific places, that makes them a "programmer"
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#15 baavgai  Icon User is online

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Re: "I can program!"

Posted 15 August 2008 - 11:12 AM

View Postprogramming4life, on 15 Aug, 2008 - 12:22 PM, said:

But there those of us that "program" that aren't compiling programs. So what would you call them?


I think you're taking compiling way to seriously, maybe too literally, and strangely defensively. :P Only the poster mentioned compilation. Compiling has become in imprecise term in any case. However, if it should make you feel better...

When you issue a SQL statement to a database it parses the statement into an internal representation that is often said to be compiled. Indeed, the cost of this parsing is such that all major databases keep a cache of plain text statements they've seen and the resulting pcode. This is one of the many reasons programmers are encouraged to use bind variables rather than construct statements dynamically, to take advantage of that cache. So now you can say with authority you compile programs every day. ;)
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