Good. Evil. Bratwurst.

Languages Are Languages

Posted on by arlen

I’ve created a new web design project as a giant learning experience. As a result, I’m making progress learning simultaneously a new language (Ruby) and a new framework (you guessed it, Rails).

I like learning new programming languages; To be honest I’ve lost track of how many this makes, but it’s over 20 now. I haven’t done it for a while and those skills have atrophied a bit. Still, the knack is coming back to me, and I’m enjoying myself immensely.

At the same time, I’ve let myself get talked into writing a book (for chess coaches, if you simply must know). So for part of everyday, I’m immersed in two completely different disciplines.

Or so I thought

This morning it hit me. The two aren’t all that dissimilar. When I launch myself into a development project, it takes me a while to get into the swing of it. The beginning is filled with false starts and bad ideas, but when the flow kicks in they drop away. When I’m done, I clean up after myself like a good boy, trim the code size. When I’m done cutting away everything that doesn’t look like the project, I’m done.

I’m doing the same thing, now, with the coaching book. In my original outline for it, I numbered the amount of pages each section of it should occupy. And now the writing part has arrived, I find I’m consistently running over, sometimes by as much as 100%.

Writing code or writing english, the process seems very much the same: Design it, write the design into the project. Follow ideas down blind alleys, get things twisted, untangle them, end up with something that works, after a fashion. Then get out the knife, cut away everything that doesn’t look like the project, and you’re done.

Or, at least, I will be.

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January 2008
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