Portfolio Pages

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Elegant Programmer

Many years ago, I was "drafted" into Quality Assurance, "QA".
Just prior to being "drafted", I did a brief stint learning about creating diagrams and user documentation on a Macintosh computer. It was new and spiffy and I was learning a lot every day.
Among other things, I reviewed and documented a PC-based program that had been released from QA and was pending release to clients.
I also documented over 100 issues ("bugs") in that already-tested program.

After reviewing the "bug" list, the programming manager came to visit. Per his direction, I was "drafted" into QA and I began to learn to test programs and to manage data in the QA environment.

Testers and Programmers have an interesting relationship. There is respect and laughter and... sometimes not so much respect and some teeth grinding. ;-) {We are human, after all.}

Going to tell someone that you've found a flaw in their carefully crafted programming code {i.e. "warts on the baby"} is not always the easiest of tasks. And hearing back from the programmers that there was a flaw in your carefully crafted test data {"It's your data."} can inspire deep-breathing exercises.

Yes, there are a few stories on both sides that don't make either group proud. But just a few.
There were also years of amazing joint efforts, clever designs and long-lasting adaptations, pride in what we crafted, repaired, and built - sometimes overnight or over a weekend after a massive install.
Overall, the day-to-day was pretty good.

One of the first and very best complements I received in my QA career was from a quietly legendary programmer. He was the guy who did whatever tasks he was given - and he did them very well.
He had a great smile and a good sense of humor.
The programming manager said he wrote very elegant code - which was very high praise from that brilliant fellow.
And he was one of those rare programmers who was entirely gracious when you found a flaw in his code. No, really - actually gracious, not just polite or kind. Not just factual or magnanimous - Gracious.

He was thorough and adept at testing his own programs so there weren't many flaws to find. As a relatively new QA analyst, I was assigned to test a new program from this gent. And I did find something that sent the code back the programmer for improvements. He resolved the issue and turned the program back over to QA - and he very publicly - and in writing - including management - complimented my Quality Assurance efforts. Yep, gracious.

The use of past-tense verbs is a bit telling.
I'm writing of this gent today because I've been thinking a great deal about the time we worked together, company events/camping trips, when he left the company to program elsewhere, his smile when he talked about meeting the love of his life, pictures from his wedding and some amazing vacations, laughter and e-mails, when he overcame some serious physical challenges, and most recently - because he lost his battle with cancer.

He was truly a good guy and an excellent programmer.
Kind, funny, charming, gracious, and elegantly clever.

He is missed.

No comments:

Post a Comment