Fun vs. boring coding

posted by Jeff | Wednesday, August 31, 2016, 6:28 PM | comments: 0

I've been writing code now in various capacities and at different percentages of my job since 1999. That's crazy to think about. Most of it has been C#, with a little Visual Basic and VBscript in the early days, a very brief flirtation with Java also early on, and Javascript almost continuously. I've toyed with other languages, too, like Ruby and Python. Regardless of the platform, all coding is not created equal. Some of it is fun, some of it is not.

My current project at work involves Java and Angular 1.5, and while I review the code, I'm not an expert in either one. In the last couple of weeks, I've been devoting some after-hours time to POP Forums, porting it to the new ASP.NET Core. A lot of what I have to do right now is fairly uninteresting. The new platform uses some different markup that I'm converting to, and that's boring. There are some changes in the way input is validated as well, and that isn't very interesting either. By contrast, I've identified different places where I can improve performance, and also change up some things to aid in scalability. Those are super interesting problems to solve, and I look forward to that work.

That's the thing about the work we do in our profession. While I might be coding 50% or less in my current career stage, there are absolutely different flavors of work. Some of it is exciting and interesting, some of it totally is not. It's the hardest thing about the work, because there are definitely levels of engagement and satisfaction for a developer, depending on what they're doing. Believe it or not, I actually enjoy the work where I'm mostly administrative (plays well to my history of coaching, and my personality type as a "directing motivator"), but when I do code, I definitely enjoy the "interesting" flavor of work.

Last year, I did a performance release for a project I had worked on previously. I would have liked a larger team, but the nature of that release was super interesting, and focused on performance. There were some challenges that made it more stressful than it should have been, but it was a lot of fun to figure out how to make an app that was struggling with 300 users completely blow people away at 500+ users. I emailed the product owner over the winter, and she indicated that no one complained about anything, and that was totally validating and awesome.

Still, part of the job is the often mundane and tedious work. When it's up to me to divvy up the work, I try to spread this around my team, but it's hard. The different frameworks and tools available are making less of this necessary, but we still have a ways to go. Work satisfaction is an important, and often overlooked aspect of our job. For now, we often have to take the boring with the fun.


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