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Future of Computer Programming

Joe Richard
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 15, 2001
Posts: 76
Grade School children are learning about computers in the class room.
It looks like Computer Programming is going to become a required class like Math and English.
Do you need a "Computer Programmer" position for something that is elementary? The company I work for does not have an "English" position or a "Math" position. If you know how to program coming out of High School, you go to college for accounting, when your working if your department has a program change you make the change right there no programmer is needed because you know how to program already. Each department would be able to customize there own code. A Company full of super power users.
With standards being developed for everything Computer programming has started to become a cross platform/multi-language job.
That seems to be where the position is now. The cutting edge people who are in demand know how to program on UNIX, iSeries, Linux and Windows using C++, JAVA, COBOL, RPG, and VB. The number of programmer is going to shrink dramatically over the next 5 years. With the baby boomer retiring we will have to automate more jobs just to keep up with business. Programming will become one of those jobs that becomes a requirment of every position like English and Math Skills.
My question: Is "Computer Programer" a dying occupation, or just going to morph into something different?

Persistence equals goals
SCJD (In Progress), SCJP
Joy Jade
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 30, 2003
Posts: 81
Jobs like accounting already comprises of so many task. I don't think their boss will give them programming work on top of that. It will be too much for their employees. Also each task at work has to meet a deadline. An accountant, for example, couldn't probably handle meeting accounting and programming deadline.
[ February 09, 2004: Message edited by: Justine Jade ]
Matt Cao
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Joined: Apr 03, 2003
Posts: 715
Programmers are digital languages writers. They are hired to fulfill users needs based on users specs. The useless programmers are those only know the technical aspects of his/her trade without understand in-depth of users side technical aspects. They are expendable. With that in mind, as we live in the capitalist society. We should use the 80/20 principle to every level of life. For us, 80/20 is represented 80% business and 20% technical. Eventhough, the company ABC is an engineering company, it still lives by that principle. R&D company operates on the same principle too, someone has to attract government grants.
If you have been train/introduce to programming since high school and excelled. You grow up pursue something else, but when time requires you still able converse with the programmer so that he/she could understand how the business side works by applying your pre-trained logic. It usually demonstrates well in Math. That is why you probably know/hear stories about bad lucks engineers but excel into other careers rather than vice versa.
If the programming career still exist in the near future, it should have integrate into other careers to survive or it could have government regulations. There are many times programmers keep thinking the knowledge users teaching is adequate to perform the job. It is rude awakening, when he/she found himself/herself out the street.
Joy Jade
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 30, 2003
Posts: 81
Accounting is an older profession than programming and has been also long been introduced in some highschool and in other college courses not geared towards Accounting career (example: Computer Science).
Even if it has long been long introduced, that position has never been eliminated in the companies today.
Therefore, I don't think programming is a dying profession.
Tim Holloway
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Jun 25, 2001
Posts: 17417

"Computer Literacy" has been an educational requirement for quite a few years now.
Unfortunately, some educators think the only way to teach "computer literacy" is to teach computer programming.
The two are not the same thing. It's true, Excel spreadsheets routinely morph into VBA-laden monsters that would be better done as standalone computer apps. However, no amount of programming training will clue people in that MS-Word's style specs can do a more professional job on a document than simply using Word as a "typewriter" and manually inserting spaces, tabs, newlines, etc.
In a similar vein, I know a fair amount about how automobiles are put together. But for non-trivial work, I'm paying a mechanic. I posess neither the tools not the practiced skills to do the job decently.
OK, so when it comes to auto mechanics and decent work, the analogy is a little weak. You get the idea, though.

An IDE is no substitute for an Intelligent Developer.
Jason Cox
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 21, 2004
Posts: 287
Not everyone is cut out to be a computer programmer just like not everyone can be an accountant, a lawyer, or any other profession.
I think teaching youngsters how to program is a bad idea. Granted, we did BASIC in middle school and Pascal in High School, and I can honestly say that I don't remember anything about either nor did it influence my current career. A little rudimentary programming practice isn't necessarily a bad thing for anyone, if nothing else so they can get an idea of how a computer really interfaces with the applications running on it.
However, I seriously doubt we're going to get full-blown programmers coming right out of high school anytime soon. Maybe the kids who seem drawn to it naturally, but they'll probably be self-taught if they're any good.
Robin Davies
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 26, 2003
Posts: 64
Computer Programming for the West is DULL

BSc, MSc
David Fishman

Joined: Dec 28, 2003
Posts: 18
Hi all,
Sorry for coming into the discussion at a late stage. While I agree with most of the concepts given here, my opinion is that the main issue I have had to deal in my five years experience as a programmer is expectations of quality, and related resourcing.
For example - if quality expectations were high, then usually a project (especially large projects) would be staffed with business users who concentrated on business requirements, analysts who translated business requirements into specifications, and programmers who concentrated on programming. Under those circumstances I found Matt Cao's 80/20 split to be reversed (80% technical) since there is a great deal for the programmer to consider in terms of proper technical design, efficiency, maintainability, correctness etc. etc.
If quality expectations were lower, usually the analysts or programmers would disappear and those job functions merged, and then the 80/20 split would lean towards the business as opposed to technical knowledge.
Now very unfortunately, my opinion is that even though I have only five years programming experience, I have already managed to observe a general declient in terms of expected quality, with a tendency to reduce staffing and turn away from customization and towards more "turnkey" solutions. In general I think that, as long as quality expectations are high enough, we are still a long way away from accountants or business users changing a few lines of code here and there to get the functionality they need.
Is programming a dying profession ? Depends on how quality-aware the future is !
Thanks, David Fishman
Mike Gershman
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 13, 2004
Posts: 1272
Programming is more than coding. The analysis and design piece is not taught below college as far as I know.
It is an extremely frustrating job for the 90% of the population who are not naturals to follow the rather unnatural linear logic rules in our field.
Sort of like driving in a traffic jam, but with less margin for error. Just knowing all the rules doesn't change that.
There is a natural hump in going from a classroom or homework program to a business-grade production program. OO and structured code lowered the hump a bit but most people will never make it over.
The real employment issues are the increased tendency of employers to use packaged applications (e.g. ERP), off-shore coders, tight project management methodologies, and hard-nosed ROI analyses of all new projects.
IMHO, after years of making other departments more productive (read "smaller"), we can hardly complain now. What goes around, comes around.

Mike Gershman
SCJP 1.4, SCWCD in process
B Hayes
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 07, 2003
Posts: 61
There is a future... because either you're working for a company that provides solutions to a buyer (ex: ERP/packaged solution); or, you're providing services to a client that needs to interface that solution to their existing system. "Grid" and "Patchwork Quilt" are catch-phrases these days; and in both cases, a programmer/developer fit into that.... and that's not even getting into embedded systems which is obviously taking off.
I agree. Here's the link:
subject: Future of Computer Programming
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