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The Code We Do Not Write

I once worked with a guy who wanted to see how long he could go without writing code before someone figured it out. It was like a game. No one found out until he got fired and we reviewed his code. There was just one file with a few lines of code in it. After 3 months on the job! He was very smart, just bored. He saw through the organization and understood what was actually valued there. Before he was fired he was almost promoted to lead the team. He only got fired because he was kind of a dick. This was a valuable lesson, both in understanding an organization and also in understanding that sometimes you just don’t need to code.

There’s a lot to be said for solving a problem without code.

If you avoid writing code, you avoid spending time writing code. You avoid spending time thinking of different ways to solve the problem. You avoid fighting with your tools to get the results you want. You avoid testing of all stripes: unit, regression, acceptance. You avoid integration hassles. You never have to communicate with another team in another timezone about the code you didn’t write. You never have to optimize the code you didn’t write. You don’t have to debug the code you didn’t write. You don’t have to ship the code you didn’t write. You don’t have to support the code you didn’t write.

At some point code has to be written. Otherwise your cell phone would come with rotary dial and have a phone number like ‘Lancaster 3816′. But maybe a good first step before breaking new code is to imagine how things might work if you never touched the keyboard at all.