With a little artistic license and stretching of the imagination, we could imagine computer programmers as having a culture—a shared set of beliefs and activities which shape their day-to-day activities. We shall find some surprising possibilities for improvement in this area over present practices, more even than in the second area of study—programming as an individual activity.
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No doubt there are programs that are used once and then thrown away. No doubt there are even more programs that should be thrown away before ever being used. Nonetheless, the great majority of programs that are written, especially by professional programmers, remain in existence for a definite life span. And during that span, most of them become modified.
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Few programmers of any experience would contradict the assertion that most programs are modified in their lifetime. Why, then, when we are forced to modify programs do we find it such a Herculean task that we often decide to throw them away and start over?
Reading programs gives us some insight, for we rarely find a program that contains any evidence of having been written with an eye to subsequent modification. But this is only a symptom, not a disease.
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Why, we should ask, do programmers, who know full well that programs will inevitably be modified, write programs with no thought to such modifications? A young novelist of our time was recently asked who were this favorite authors. As you might expect, his work did not support his thesis.
Perhaps the same could be said for some of our radical young programmers. Perhaps if we want to understand how programmers program—to lift the veil of the programming mystique—we could fruitfully begin by seeing what is to be learned from the reading of programs.
Table of Contents for: The psychology of computer programming
The meme that programming is a write-only skill is one that recurs from time to time. With relatively little software these days needing to be highly optimised, and developer time orders of magnitude more expensive than hardware, the dictum that software should be written primarily for humans to understand, and only secondarily for machines, is truer than ever.
The context, and examples, in this book are rather quaint and almost humorous now like noting that now that programmers actually work at a terminal they can just see what code does rather than having to read it offline.
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Often in a software project, things are implemented in a clumsy, awkward, or otherwise non-standard manner. But sometimes there was as a good reason for the approach at the time it was written that is no longer true now to work a limitation in a library being used that has long since been fixed, for example.
This book has only one major purpose—to trigger the beginning of a new field of study: computer programming as a human activity, or in short, the psychology of computer programming. There are, by various estimates, hundreds of thousands of programmers working today. Copy and paste this code into your Wikipedia page.
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Gerald M. Want to Read. Weinberg 4 Want to read Published by Smashwords. Subjects Computer programming , Psychological aspects , Psychological aspects of Computer programming.
The Psychology of Computer Programming: Silver Anniversary eBook Editi ...
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