September 19, 2019 // By Jeff Nordquist
As software developers, we show up to work, fill the coffee mug, catch up on emails, check our Jira board, and dive right in. Code gets slung, meetings happen, and pretty soon it’s time to close the laptop and hit the road.
But how often do we step back and ask ourselves WHY we do this? What is it about software development that keeps us coming back for more? Are we genuinely happy with what we’re doing right now?
This is the first of several posts about why I love software development. I’d love to hear if these ring true for you too!
Reason #1: I love to solve puzzles
Writing software is really just solving small puzzles, then putting them together and working on bigger ones. I love getting so engrossed in a gnarly bug that I blink and suddenly it’s 6 hours later. And I especially love when my reason for stopping was that the puzzle was solved!
I remember working on one especially tricky project a few years ago. I was in management at the time, but my boss agreed to take over my duties for 3 weeks while I went heads-down in the code. I was happy to trade the budgeting, meetings, and bureaucracy for a screen filled with pointers, references, and compilation errors.
My teammates and I were trying to expand a complex data structure that had been in place for over 20 years. Something that made sense when it was written, but was painfully brittle and downright scary to work with. One of those projects where scrapping the whole thing and writing it from scratch almost seemed like the best approach.
Despite all that, I LOVED those three weeks. Every day, I fired up Xcode, started typing, and suddenly it was time to go home. Some days I was actually disappointed when I had to leave the office. Some nights I’d wake up at 3 in the morning with a big “Aha!” moment (my wife got a little annoyed, but fell right back asleep as soon as I started describing it :)).
Bottom line, I loved that big, ugly, terrifying puzzle. We got it working on time, and I went back to my spreadsheets and meetings for a while… Until I realized that my heart was in development, and transitioned back to that role permanently.
Is this important to you, too? Do you get enough of these moments in your job? I’d love to hear your thoughts! You can find me on Twitter @jeffnordquist.