"If it's raining, then I need to get my jacket," - Bill Gates

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Coding wasn’t difficult when Bill Gates was a coder – the guy built Altair BASIC, for Christ’s sake, some of the first software to ever exist for a computer that was essentially a toy. No, Bill, coding is not that hard when you don’t have 40-50 years of cruft under your feet, swaying in the wind, daring you to write another line of code and make the whole thing topple over…

In all seriousness, I might have to write a full-fledged blog post to reply to this nonsense.

For anyone reading this who feels stupid because the “God of Computers” or whatever said “cOdInG iS nOt DiFfiCulT”:

Coding is absolutely difficult. It got a lot more difficult since Bill has touched a line of code. You’re not stupid. Coding is capital-H Hard. There’s a big difference between writing the first software that ever existed for a toy computer (the Altair), or putting together nice little lego-like building blocks, and writing production-grade code on the web, when you’re standing on the shoulders of giants. And those giants just happened to leave behind a godawful mess that you now have to build on top of.

David, did you just nerd-snipe me? Again?


I think it’s easier to write a line of code today than ever. But that doesn’t mean “coding is easy”.

Try this. Spend 15m teaching someone who has never coded some of the basics. I’ll bet you’ll be surprised and how much ground you cover. They’ll probably have a general idea of how variables, loops, conditionals, and functions operate. But I’ll bet they’d have no idea how to even begin pulling those concepts together to create an application.

At the atomic level, coding is easy. But complexity grows pretty damn quickly as you start gluing things together.

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Excellent point. It’s like saying “chemistry is easy – it’s just physics”. Or “biology is easy – it’s just chemistry”. The basic concepts are easy enough to grasp, easy enough that you could teach someone who knows nothing quite a bit in 15 minutes. But to leap from a rudimentary understanding of chemistry, to a single-celled organism, let alone a human being? Complexity does not grow on a linear scale here.

My metaphor isn’t perfect, but hopefully that dovetails nicely with your point. To break from the metaphor: coding is both easier and harder these days. It’s easier, because you have online communities – hell, you have the internet as a reference!

Let me give a concrete example of this paradox. It was easier to make a game 30 years ago, on an Apple II or Commodore 64, than it is to make a game now, say, on the web. I believe this is for several reasons, most notably the fact that these machines were tailor-made, designed in fact, for making games! Now, we have general-purpose computers, running general-purpose web browsers, powering apps that start out as specializations and grow more generalized over time. Not to mention, these browsers and OSes come with a lot of cruft, a lot of baggage that you just have to kind of…deal with. Work around. Or exploit! Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do, but the complexities and harsh realities are sometimes too much, and I find myself pining for simpler days. Days when you could POKE 53280, 0 and just set the damn pixel.

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