Non-blocking Programmers and Navigation Speed

Wed 30 March 2011

Coding Relic: Non-blocking Programmers.

In which D. Gentry makes the excellent point that high programming productivity is unlikely to result from a single cause, but from a multiplicity. He lauds typing speed and criticizes excessive swearing (dammit).

I am skeptical about "typing speed" but I've come to think that "navigation speed" is a key talent -- I work with some guys who have mad zsh and vi skillz and I have to admit that their speed with searching and querying across multiple directories is well beyond what I can do. Since questions that span multiple modules are often the ones that are more challenging, their advantage in navigation speed multiplies their effectiveness.

Text, though, is not the only way to achieve high "navigation speed." There are many programmers, including myself, who have more of a visual intuition. I quite like semantically-meaningful diagrams. Perhaps one of the reasons why CASE tools move in and out of fashion is that they are only valuable to that sizeable-but-not-universal group.

Perhaps this is yet another aspect of the field of software development where we see pendulum swings in popularity based not, as the proponents always argue, on fundamental advantages, but on personal and sociological reasons.