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Coders are Creative

September 18, 2014
Programmers are Creative

Programmers are often not the first profession which comes to mind when considering creativity. Everyone likes to mention the designers, and the front-end UI/UX people when they talk about being creative. And while those roles are certainly the most visible and visually creative roles there is a certain level of creativity involved in programming as well. And so for all the programmers out there – here are 3 reasons why programmers are creative.

1. Programmers Solve Problems Creatively

I know, you were expecting this for the first point weren’t you. This is what we always tend to laugh about. Programmers doing whatever to “make it work”. Or the famous code comment which says, “Don’t touch this, it works.” Of course we consider this to be a bad form of creative programming and yet it hints at something deeper. Obviously there must be some level of creativity. I’ve seen some examples of code which look beautiful on the outside and function but when I dig deeper into the code I’m amazed. The creative “workarounds” (that’s an affectionate and oft-used name for this type of coding) which are in place sometimes leave me speechless.

But there are plenty of great examples of solving problems creatively. Programmers have a unique way of analyzing and solving problems that others would leave others completely stumped. They are able to analyze and determine alternate methods for getting the results they need and often times won’t take no for an answer. It’s highly creative.

2. Programmers See Code As Beautiful

One of my favorite movies of all times is the Matrix. It’s a classic movie and one which holds a special place in my heart. I remember with great fondness watching the coders stare at the screen and “see” the world. They no longer saw the code but instead they saw the world as it existed around them. I loved that idea. I have always wanted to be like that and while there is a level of science fiction involved I have also seen some coders who exhibit a creative and unique ability to see what the code does. These programmers see the very lines of code as beautiful and through the code they see what the outcome is. They are able to experience the end result, what the application will do without ever seeing a user interface.

When a programmer is able to look at code and view the finished product through just the code I believe they see the code as beautiful. Good well-written code is indeed beautiful. I will often tell people the work we do at WebSpark is more than just make great applications. We make beautiful code. We see beauty in the code. And that makes us creative.

3. Programmers Are Uniquely Gifted

Code engineers are accustomed to several aspects of their work which make them unique. As you’ll find with other more well-known creative types – good creatives cannot be rushed. They work at the right speed to accomplish what everyone else will see as creative genius. They have a vision in their mind and they work towards that vision in a manner which suits them.

Secondly programmers focus on a variety of aspects of a system which to others may seem disparate and unrelated and yet in the end tie back in together perfectly to create the final product. I’ve watched firsthand as expert programmers will create a bit of code in one file, navigate three folders away to an unrelated file add additional code and then 30 minutes later will write an additional function which fits perfectly between the two and makes everything work together a cohesive whole.

Lastly, coders as other creative types work crazy hours (most of the time). You’ll find them up at all hours of day or night feverishly working on their ideas or projects. Sometimes its deadlines, but other times they do it because they love what they are doing. They are passionate about their work and work with a frantic excitement.

There’s no doubt in my mind that programmers are creative and they demonstrate this creativity through a number of ways. I’ve picked out just three (five if you count the last point as three separate ones). The next time you find yourself questioning a programmer’s ability to be creative stop yourself and think about this post. It’s possible you’ll find they are just as creative as another.