coders vs programmers

Interesting article from February in Times of India – The myth of the Indian programmer.

First there is the interesting description of coders v. programmers:

Most software professionals in India are not programmers, they are mere coders,” says a senior executive from a global consultancy firm, who has helped Nasscom in researching its industry reports.

In industry parlance, coders are akin to smart assembly line workers as opposed to programmers who are plant engineers. Programmers are the brains, the glorious visionaries who create things. Large software programmes that often run into billions of lines are designed and developed by a handful of programmers.

Coders follow instructions to write, evaluate and test small components of the large program. As a computer science student in IIT Mumbai puts it if programming requires a post graduate level of knowledge of complex algorithms and programming methods, coding requires only high school knowledge of the subject.

Coding is also the grime job. It is repetitive and monotonous. Coders know that. They feel stuck in their jobs. They have fallen into the trap of the software hype and now realise that though their status is glorified in the society, intellectually they are stranded.

The rest of the article has references to people such as this anonymous coder:

“There is nothing new to learn from the job I am doing in Pune. I could have done it with some training even after passing high school,” says a 25-year-old who joined Infosys after finishing his engineering course in Nagpur.

Now I will have to say this. There is no better place in the world than Silicon Valley for demanding and challenging work as a programmer and innovator. But that’s the catch – the difference between a “coder” and an innovator, programmer, or entrepreneur, is the level of passion an individual brings to the work.

75% of what I am doing is not coding, it is innovating. Furthermore, I rather have programmer/innovators than coders.

Coders are bureaucrats. Coders are not self-sufficient. Coders do what they are told – they do not disagree. They think in the box and they need to be micromanaged. Coders are start at 8am and are done at 5pm. Coders could work as a bank teller. They are not rebellious. They never spend time to learn things on their own. Coders never try to improve on what their manager told them to do. Coders never come up with their own ideas. Coders are not dreamers. Coders are not risk-takers.

To the Times of India article again:

Sachin Rao, one of the coders stuck in the routine of a job that does not excite him anymore, has been toying with the idea of moving out of Infosys but cannot find a different kind of “break”, given his coding experience.

Newsflash to the Sachins of the coding world — make your own “break”. Are you on odesk? Are you creating and learning on your own? Or are you waiting for the world to give you a lucky break? If so buy a lottery ticket, your odds will be better.

So I will say it again:


If you are not a coder contact me: patmoore <--at--> amplafi com

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