[thelist] OT - do programmers/designers know *everything*?

Mark Howells mark at mountain.ch
Tue Jul 23 14:13:01 CDT 2002

> 1. Are most of the folks on this list (for example) actually making a decent
> living programming, coding, design etc? Whether it be free-lance, or working
> for other companies etc?

I gave up on trying to slog my guts out with freelance work about four years
ago -- there just isn't enough work about in my specific field to pay the
bills. I've been working as a software / web application developer for the
past three years and think that you'll be most successful by working for a
"normal" salary with a large, well established company which has a strong
base in multiple media areas -- i.e. not just the web.

> 2. For the folks that ARE doing well enough to not have to work a 'real' job
> (you know...as in retail, services...etc etc,...anything NOT to do with
> their web passions)...do you folks actually know in your head most of the
> skills you need to perform? For example, PERL/CGI programmers...can you
> actually, basically write working code that without having to rely on your
> notes, code snippets, manuals, etc? Or is that just silly? Do almost ALL
> hardcore designers/programmers use some sort of 'help' when working on
> projects?

Most of the stuff that I know has been self taught over the past six years
-- I'm lucky to have a good head for languages (not just computer languages)
and started (kind of) with BASIC on an Apple II when I was at school. That
said, I still have a large and full bookshelf within reach when I'm coding,
for reference -- most coders I know will always have reference material to
hand and many also have a code library on their machine, containing the most
commonly-used scripts (rollovers, show/hide layers and so on).

> Does that question even make sense? Personally, I get a little nervous that
> maybe I don't really have the "stuff" to make it in this business, as I
> really can't even do a basic JavaScript roll-over script without referring
> to either my books, or at least previous work. And while I DO seem to be
> getting a handle on mysql-PERL stuff, I couldn't put a working web-based
> database together from the top of my head, if my life depended on it. Ya
> know?

Not many people could, successfully and without any bugs at all. It takes
twice as long for most people to build a web application without checking
and referring, as they have to go back and debug at the end of the
development phase.

And as to age -- I'm 30, been coding for the web since 1996 and am currently
Project Manager and Software Engineer for Gossweiler Media in Switzerland,
developing applications in our own (4D-based) system G-OS
<http://www.g-os.ch/>. I'd say that I have extensive knowledge of XHTML, CSS
and Javascript, but wouldn¹t even think of starting a project without being
within reach of my manuals (and the Evolt and CSS Discuss lists,

Mark Howells

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