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Good programming: making things better

One of the reasons why I love programming is that when you are doing it right, the software you build actually makes things better for someone. Today I’ve seen two examples of this:

  • I rewrote an internal application for a customer that basically moves data between two systems. The old app had to be started manually and was slow and painful. The new app runs on a schedule and doesn’t require the same kind of end-user monitoring.
  • I’m working on updating a report for a different customer. The old report wasted a lot of white space because it had one column that was always very long and thus used several additional lines. The updates move that extra long column to a separate line underneath the others, making the overall report shorter. My test report used 6 pages with the old version and only 4 with the new one, and that is a fairly short version of the report! This is going to make my customer and their users very happy!

The projects that are the best are those where the tangible benefits are obvious. When considering a software feature, we should always be considering the question “does this make things better for someone?” (If not, why are we doing it?)

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