Programming Languages

Practice…but not typing

A post by Karl Martino reminded me of Jeff Atwood’s We are typists first, programmers second. Atwood was responding, in hearty agreement, to a post by Steve Yegge, who wrote

I was trying to figure out which is the most important computer science course a CS student could ever take, and eventually realized it’s Typing 101.

The really great engineers I know, the ones who build great things, they can type.

As I wrote in Karl’s comments, saying that fast typing is what makes a great programmer is little different than saying what makes a good carpenter is how fast they swing their hammers.

Fast typing is a by-product of extensive creation, whether that creation is web page markup, a stylesheet, or code. The more we create code, web pages, and designs, the more efficient we get with all of the tools used, including but not limited to, typing.

In addition, times have changed. I have no doubts that today’s generation of kids are speed demons on the keyboard—whether it’s on their cellphone or attached to their computers. A typing class would most likely slow them down.

If anything, what we should be encouraging is more practice with problem solving—the ability to figure something out on one’s own, without having to Google an answer or ask friends on Twitter—not typing.

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