I Love To Code

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I was reading Jeff Atwood’s latest post, Programming: Love it or Leave it when I came across this part, emphasis mine.

Joel implied that good programmers love programming so much they’d do it for no pay at all. I won’t go quite that far, but I will note that the best programmers I’ve known have all had a lifelong passion for what they do. There’s no way a minor economic blip would ever convince them they should do anything else. No way. No how.

Unlike Jeff, I will go that far. I love to code, and I do it for free all the time.

I don’t think Joel meant to imply that programmers would continue to write code for their current employers for free in lieu of any pay. What I think he meant was that programmers who love to code will code for fun as well as profit. They’ll write code outside of their paying jobs.

For example, I took the entire week off last week and spent lots of time with my family, which was wonderful (cue gratuitous picture of kid)! I trained my son in Ninja acrobatics.

cody ninja

I got my brother completely hooked on Desktop Tower Defense.

brian playing desktop tower

And tried to figure out what sort of mischief my son was involved in, as that face is as guilty as sin.


However, along with all that family fun, I spent nearly every minute of downtime hacking on Subtext. I went on a huge refactoring binge cleaning up stale code, separating concerns left and right, and replacing the old method of matching requests with ASP.NET Routing.

And it was huge fun!

And I’m not alone. I noticed several streams on Twitter of folks having fun writing code, such as Glenn Block sharing his learning in the open experiences, among others.

Developers I’ve worked with who really love to code, tend to do it for fun, as well as for work. Personally, I don’t think it’s unhealthy as long as it’s not the only thing you do for fun. And I’m not suggesting that if you don’t do it for fun, you don’t love to code. Some people work so much, they don’t have time to do it for fun, but would code for fun if they had copious free time.

As for me, I’ll say it again, I <3 to code.

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32 responses

  1. Avatar for BorisCallens
    BorisCallens December 29th, 2008

    True. Altough I never code for projects for work. For me they have to be personal, free-time, my-own-client, fun projects.
    Also, living amongst none-programmer students tends to kind of shift free time priorities towards binging rather then programming.

  2. Avatar for Steven Gunderflops
    Steven Gunderflops December 29th, 2008

    I love the Consolas font.

  3. Avatar for Scott Bellware
    Scott Bellware December 29th, 2008

    I love to code so much, it breaks my heart to see what programmer culture lets pass as responsible coding and design. I love to code so much that I can barely bring myself to participate anymore. It's deeply depressing and soul-crushing.

  4. Avatar for GlenG
    GlenG December 29th, 2008

    @Scott - Scott you are such a sad, disgruntled, negative soul that I wish you would give up coding, go do something else and stop interjecting into so many conversations when you have nothing constructive to add.
    Whether it is comments on blog posts, twitter conversations or any other form of media, you appear to be so totally depressed, disillusioned and negative that I hope you don't have any loaded guns in your house. Get some help man.. and move on to a new phase of your life and leave the rest of us to get on with it.

  5. Avatar for Justin Rudd
    Justin Rudd December 29th, 2008

    I had grand plans for Christmas week as well. Unfortunately, I got Gears of War 2. Oh well...that was fun but in a different way!

  6. Avatar for Andy Stopford
    Andy Stopford December 29th, 2008

    Phil with out a programmers passion to do what we do opensource would simply not exist, in opensource we can freely push the bounderies to what ever level we want. That passion is reflected freely in opensource, no manager or customer here.
    #GlenG leave off Scott, Scott explore another language\community or make your own (what ever suits where ever your mind is).

  7. Avatar for haacked
    haacked December 29th, 2008

    @Justin I finished GOW2 just before the break, hence the coding. ;)

  8. Avatar for Scott Bellware
    Scott Bellware December 29th, 2008

    I reserve the right to continue to hack this community in the name of socially-responsible software development and anti-corruption.

  9. Avatar for KevDog
    KevDog December 29th, 2008

    Hey, if you do your job for just the money, you'll always be underpaid.
    Rock on, Phil.

  10. Avatar for Andrew Nurse
    Andrew Nurse December 29th, 2008

    I couldn't agree more. I absolutely love to code. Although, I've still got one more chapter of GoW2 to finish before getting back to coding... oh well, back to the grindstone :P

  11. Avatar for Sir Nerdlington
    Sir Nerdlington December 29th, 2008

    may i be the first to say ....NEEERRRDS!

  12. Avatar for Gokhan
    Gokhan December 29th, 2008

    Admit it, you love to post photos of Cody to your blog but you don't want to sound too familyish, so you cover all into a post pretending it's a technical post, right?
    Keep them coming, I always loved to see him in action since the day one (haacked.com/.../Cody%20075_thumb_1.jpg)
    Happy new year for the three of you.

  13. Avatar for aamir
    aamir December 29th, 2008

    every one said the true funny story ... keep it up ...

  14. Avatar for David Nelson
    David Nelson December 29th, 2008

    I think this is just as true for programming as it is for every other profession. The best trial lawyers are the ones who love to debate even when they are not in the courtroom. The best basketball players are the ones who play pickup games for fun. Passion for your field drives you to always be getting better at it, regardless of whether there are any incentives. Plus, when you spend your "free time" doing the same thing that you do at your job, it effectively gives you twice as much experience as those who are just doing it 8 to 5.

  15. Avatar for Kris
    Kris December 30th, 2008

    For years it was ASP/ASP.net websites with different cool functionality. These days, I spend most of my free time creating XNA video games.

  16. Avatar for BCoelho2000
    BCoelho2000 December 30th, 2008

    In this industry you have to be always up to date with the latest technologies/programming frameworks/languages or you end up being less relevant...
    So in this way I completely agree with you that 9 to 5 isn't enough. Plus: I'm glad that we're lucky enough to say that we work on the things that we love -> software!
    Recently I'm mostly interested in the business side of software development! It's a whole new exciting world!
    In the end the key thing is to code great software that will change the world that drives me!
    What about you?

  17. Avatar for Karim
    Karim December 30th, 2008

    KevDog, you should have your own page on the wikipedia along with this quote! :)

  18. Avatar for Kamran Shahid
    Kamran Shahid December 30th, 2008

    Yep.I am also ready in my free time to code for free.Try to help others freely on the forums is one way.[by checking there problems and finding solutions.]
    Also Phil your Son Looking very cutes

  19. Avatar for Marthinus
    Marthinus December 30th, 2008

    Yes, I also love to code for the hell of it, but lately with a baby on the way and all those amazing RPG games (Fallout 3, Oblivion, Mass Effect, etc.), I find myself coding less for fun than usual.
    That and the open source community has ballooned, in the 90s I had to write my own apps and utilities to make my life easier, now you just Google it, someone around the globe probably made the app or utility already.

  20. Avatar for Pure Krome
    Pure Krome December 30th, 2008

    @ Haacked: +1 to <3 Code 4 phun. When my 10 month old son is asleep and my wife busy doing something, i slink over to the notebook to code away. THAT's my type of holidays :) (and only 3.5 hours until 2009! Happy Coding in 2009 peeps!)
    pew pew!

  21. Avatar for Mark Dykun
    Mark Dykun December 30th, 2008

    After more then 20 years of coding, I still have the same excitement in creating 'things'. To that end I sometimes am still coding in my dreams while sleeping, solving something that has stumpped me earlier in the day. Without the love, this career would be a painful choice.

  22. Avatar for KevDog
    KevDog January 1st, 2009

    I am far too humble to do such a thing myself. However, I fully support your efforts on my behalf :)

  23. Avatar for ola
    ola January 5th, 2009

    I love to code,this should be an anthem of every focus programmer,because once you get involved in the coding thing its become a religion,sometimes you find yourself coding away in your sleeps.
    Sincerely,am a coding enthusiast as well.

  24. Avatar for mike
    mike January 6th, 2009

    I dont code for free. I have to feed my family and prepare for retirement. I dont understand anything having to do with free. If people want free, they get it from me while volunteering to build houses, help homeless, etc. I dont do my job/career for free.
    I cant imagine asking my power company or cell phone provider to do what they do, for free. :-) Can I have a free month or two of power? Lets say July and August. Please? Dont think so.

  25. Avatar for David Nelson
    David Nelson January 7th, 2009

    I don't do my job for free either. I work 40-50 hours every week as a programmer, and you bet I expect to get paid for it. As Phil said in the post, "I don’t think Joel meant to imply that programmers would continue to write code for their current employers for free in lieu of any pay." The point is that when I am deciding what to do with my free time, outside of my job, more often than not what I end up doing is coding, because that's what I love to do, whether I am getting paid for it or not.

  26. Avatar for Emad Ibrahim
    Emad Ibrahim January 14th, 2009

    My sentiments exactly. I LOVE TO CODE. My friends make fun of me because when we are out drinking and at the end of the night when I have establish a nice buzz, I would say something like "I wish I had my laptop. I feel like coding".
    I LOVE IT. I will do it for free and on my free time. But luckily, we all get paid a lot of money to do what we love. It's kind of like an artist or an athlete, they pay you to have fun.

  27. Avatar for Matt Penner
    Matt Penner January 15th, 2009

    This is all so true. My co-workers, friends and I always talk about how important passion is in this career. It became such as subject that I gave a talk on it at our user group (Inland Empire .Net User Group in Southern California - www.iedotnetug.org). It was more of an involved discussion and we had a lot of great feedback from everyone who attended.
    If anyone here is interested you can grab the slides from my web page (http://mattpenner.info/speaking-events/) or our user group in the Downloads section (http://www.iedotnetug.org/UG/downloads.aspx).
    I love this stuff and I wouldn't be in any other career. On a recent long project (12+ hour days for about a week) I told my wife, "It's a good thing I love what I do!" Most days are 8 hours, which is a good thing because we also have 2 little boys at home and a daughter on the way.
    Keep posting those pics of your kids! :)

  28. Avatar for Chicago mover
    Chicago mover August 16th, 2010

    I am a great lover of code.And I love to read article with code.

  29. Avatar for Paul Howard
    Paul Howard June 14th, 2011

    Even as a ex programmer some 15 years ago. I have had to relearn to code for our hypnotherapy site. It's come hard I can tell you. But I love it.

  30. Avatar for anish
    anish October 5th, 2011

    i like the look on the kids face, it really looks like his face is as guilty as sin. (-_-)

  31. Avatar for Angel
    Angel June 10th, 2013

    Is there anyone who is truly passionate about coding and is looking for a developers position in Detroit,MI?

  32. Avatar for johnson
    johnson March 8th, 2015

    @David - With regards to this particular vulnerability, it sounds like it. That's what Phil described ASP.NET and WCF as doing with the automatic { d: [] } construct.