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GeneralCall for a Professional Programmers' Association PinPopular
gggustafson24-Jun-19 6:49
professionalgggustafson24-Jun-19 6:49 
Programming is the most intellectually stimulating activity that I have ever performed. It is not so much the making of things from nothing as it is the satisfaction that comes when I have created a thing of intellectual beauty. To me programming is a combination of art and science. And, in programming, technical competency goes hand in hand with technical currency.

So that you understand from whence I come I would like to introduce you to what I have done during my career, and what I continue to do in a more relaxed environment: I wrote stand alone multi-threaded client/server systems; graphics software and effective user interfaces to complex scientific and engineering applications; real-time and embedded system software and firmware; and communications system software. I continue to be fluent in multiple computer programming languages (e.g., C#, C, Ada, FORTRAN, COBOL, and Pascal). I have programmed within Windows, UNIX, Linux, VxWorks, as well as others too old and long ago to mention.

What bothers me about programming today is the number of people who claim to be programmers but who are not. These wannabes claim to be programmers but when you look at a wannabe's accomplishments, they usually include applications that are written in a macro language (such as VBA) and that are usually trivial and unfocused. We need a word to describe this class of people who are intelligent enough to pretend to program without actually programming. In many other career paths, they would be called apprentices.

Let me define what I did in unambiguous terms. I was a professional production programmer who wrote computer software for money paid by someone who would probably not use the software.

I firmly believe that programmers should be held accountable for their mistakes (witness the Boeing 737 Max disasters). I am convinced that the only solution to this problem is the certification of programmers by a vendor-independent organization. Although Code Project has indicated that it is opposed to such a certification organization, I believe that the arguments offered were specious. My question is simply "Doesn't the programmer who wrote the software that caused some type of catastrophe share the responsibility for the disaster?" It is for this reason that certification is required. Once such an organization is in place, companies that do not wish to share the blame for a software based disaster can hire a certified professional. The certified professional should then use certified journeymen and certified apprentices to design and implement the software.

One of my favorite managers was not always a manager. In 1976, when I first met him, he was an expert FORTRAN programmer - more than expert - brilliant. About a year later, he told me that he was going to move into management. I expressed my disappointment and told him that within a year he would no longer be technically competent. Of course, he disagreed. He managed with flair. He made it clear to the people who worked for him that they were the foremost of his concerns. He proved his commitment more than once and his reputation as a good manager grew. About a year after he became a manager, he called me. He was writing a simple FORTRAN program but couldn't recall how to reposition a file pointer to the beginning of the file without first closing and then reopening it. It was a simple thing to do in FORTRAN (the FORTRAN statement is REWIND). I reminded him of my prediction and suggested that it had come true. However, in light of his growing reputation as a great manager, I told him that I'd rather him be a good manager. There are far too few good managers. But note, although he remained a great manager, he would not be able to be certified as a professional programmer.

Programming has not only kept me gainfully employed but it has also provided me with some of my most satisfying life-time experiences. But at the same time, programming skills in the United States are dismal. What has caused this dismal state of programming skills in the United States? I can think of at least two reasons. Academia is certainly one problem. Our educational institutions are not teaching the ethics of programming well enough. I also believe that Microsoft, one of the leading vendors of software development tools, is another.

I believe that it's time to organize a programmers' association that can provide certification and other benefits not available to programmers today. For example: a stable retirement fund, not affected by the continuous movement of programmers from one job to another; job protection from any number of ills that plague our profession; career guidance and referrals; legal assistance in the case it was needed; and any number of other services. Of course, there would be a cost but, hopefully, a well-spent cost.

It's time for programmers to organize, if not to obtain services not available today but to raise their profession to a recognized standing.
Gus Gustafson

QuestionRe: Call for a Professional Programmers' Association Pin
Eddy Vluggen24-Jun-19 6:59
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gggustafson24-Jun-19 7:03
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gggustafson24-Jun-19 7:30
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David O'Neil24-Jun-19 9:34
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gggustafson26-Jun-19 5:49
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#realJSOP26-Jun-19 6:19
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gggustafson26-Jun-19 7:15
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Kevin Firth3-Jul-19 15:47
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