Terseness May Be Beautiful (but…)

“The Community” of programmers is an amazingly generous tribe of folks. Flatiron pays folks to help make the big system run (to write and improve curriculum, etc!) and those folks are kind and patient but I’m not talking about them. One must pay a prettier penny to get their help. Instead, I lucked into a fantastic mentor the other day, one of the legend of experienced coders who volunteer to reach back and help some of us try to climb out of total obscurity. Drew had helped me before and I DM’d him to ask if I was anywhere near the right path on the damn Tic Tac Toe mindboggle.

At one point during the next 4 (FOUR!) hours of mentoring, of gently guiding me toward comprehending a way forward (“Change 2 words and you’ve got it” “We have to account for the fact that we’re checking each combo, not one”), Drew commented that I could clean up my code a little, and sent me a simplified syntax of what I had cobbled from my limited skill and his consistent guidance. I stared at what he’d written, my brain whining and losing momentum, underpowered up the hill he’d just conjured on a whim.

“You think the solution is way more complex than it is sometimes. It’s simple simple.”

Perhaps. I hope so.

At another point, he said that programmers see terseness as beautiful. I understand what Drew means, and I want to eventually acquire the ability to be terse, and write beautiful code. Right now, I’m still staring at the next huge black monoliths that appear on every page, wondering WTF.

I feel exhausted. I stare at my pastel and jagged Ruby code.

After a few hours, when I look back, I can see that I am erratically pressing into an infinite darkness. And I very gratefully acknowledge I couldn’t have come this far without mentors – who can see in the dark.