Whattup With Walt: Whattup with programmer time vs. user time?

Whenever I write software I keep this in mind:

Any task the computer doesn’t do will have to be performed over and over and over by every user of the program.

For example: Invest an hour in writing a clear, complete error message. It will save a human being from having to manually figure out the error, over and over and over again, and it will affect every user of the program from now until, well, a long time.

Don’t leave work for the user to do if you can do it. Your time is not worth more than the hundreds of people who will be using your program.

A Picture of Walt Howard


Senior Software Developer Walt Howard is a Senior Software Developer on the CORE engineering team at MediaMath. He began his C++ career with version 1.0 of the Microsoft C++ compiler. In his own words, "I was a C programmer and was continually frustrated because C didn’t have certain automatic, housekeeping functions I thought were only sensible, like destructors, templates, and exceptions. When C++ came out it was all my programming dreams come true. I was an instant convert. It was like Bjarne Stroustrup was reading my diary." Walt finds himself in the peculiar position of being a right-brained programmer in a left-brained programmers' world. He values simplicity where most programmers strive for complexity. “I would rather augment a naive, overly simplistic solution than try to undo a tangled up mess caused by complexity.” As for experience, Walt has been involved in software development with evolving techniques and team sizes since before MS-DOS.

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