Many years ago, programmers would have to submit applications on punch cards. That's well before my time, so I don't know how that must have felt. But I can imagine you'd spend a lot longer trying to make sure everything looked exactly right. I can imagine it'd be agonising waiting to get your results back. And gosh, imagine how disappointing it would be to get your results and find you made a minor typo. Ugh!
On the other hand, the 2023 experience is so fast it almost doesn't feel real. You can type something in your editor and it will immediately tell you when there's an error. You can hit save and (in the case of React) the browser will automatically update within a moment or two. We're getting closer and closer to coding feeling like sculpture. As Bret Victor famously says, if you can see the results of your actions immediately, entirely new ways of thinking and creating open up.
I just spent a few hours fixing some bugs, and I saw a different sort of iteration process, but just as profound:
- Figure out the thing I want to add/improve
- Search for the information
- Deploy it
Those three steps don't seem like much, and in a way they're not. We've always done step #1 and step #3. It's step #2 that's been the hard part. Google search results can be helpful, as can docs and Stack Overflow questions. But they often take a lot of effort to get working well. Stack Overflow answers can be good, but sometimes your question is different enough that previous questions won't help. Google can point you to answers, but they're often outdated or bad. Documentation can help but only if it's good, up-to-date, and you are the sort of person that can find what you need in docs.
In comparison, chatGPT just lets me get the information. My step #2 has just gotten much, much faster. So I see myself improving much, much faster.
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