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What’s In a Name? Programmers and Such

July 3rd, 2017 · No Comments

by Dwayne Phillips

We consider what the world calls “computer programmers” these days.

Developers. That is what we seem to call computer programmers these days. I work in a building with perhaps a hundred developers. “Are you a developer?” people ask me. Sigh.

The trouble is, these developers are not developers because they aren’t developing software. They are maintainers because they are maintaining software. No one calls anyone a “maintainer.” At least I haven’t heard that term.

Let’s back up a few steps and consider software maintenance. The majority of computer programming is in software maintenance. Hence, the majority of money for computer programmers is in software maintenance. Few, however, consider the latter $$$.

(For more information on software maintenance, search for many books. A classic text is listed here.)

Software maintenance starts with an existing computer program. The maintainer changes the software in one of three ways:

  1. Adaptive
  2. Perfective
  3. Corrective

Adaptive changes adapt the software to new requirements. This is the most development-oriented type of maintenance. Perfective changes to software so that it is better in some sense (faster, less memory, less electric power, etc.). Corrective ensures that 2+2=4, not 3.

Consider Microsoft Word (why not?). The first version was released, well, I don’t know, some long time ago. Hence, 98.6% of all work on MS Word has been software maintenance.

Consider Agile Development (everyone does this, right?). The first release comes after the first sprint or whatever we call that first short period of time. Thereafter, all programming is software maintenance.

Simple stuff. Simple title. Rarely used. Oh well. We carry on, sometimes in reverse.

Tags: Communication · Programming · Word

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