How Is Computer Programming Different Today Than 20 Years Ago?


This week a former engineer for the Microsoft Windows Core OS Division shared an insightful (and very entertaining) list with "some changes I have noticed over the last 20 years" in the computer programming world. Some excerpts:- Some programming concepts that were mostly theoretical 20 years ago have since made it to mainstream including many functional programming paradigms like immutability, tail recursion, lazily evaluated collections, pattern matching, first class functions and looking down upon anyone who don't use them... - 3 billion devices run Java. That number hasn't changed in the last 10 years though... - A package management ecosystem is essential for programming languages now. People simply don't want to go through the hassle of finding, downloading and installing libraries anymore. 20 years ago we used to visit web sites, downloaded zip files, copied them to correct locations, added them to the paths in the build configuration and prayed that they worked. - Being a software development team now involves all team members performing a mysterious ritual of standing up together for 15 minutes in the morning and drawing occult symbols with post-its.... - Since we have much faster CPUs now, numerical calculations are done in Python which is much slower than Fortran. So numerical calculations basically take the same amount of time as they did 20 years ago... - Even programming languages took a side on the debate on Tabs vs Spaces.... - Code must run behind at least three levels of virtualization now. Code that runs on bare metal is unnecessarily performant.... - A tutorial isn't really helpful if it's not a video recording that takes orders of magnitude longer to understand than its text. - There is StackOverflow which simply didn't exist back then. Asking a programming question involved talking to your colleagues. - People develop software on Macs. In our new world where internet connectivity is the norm and being offline the exception, "Security is something we have to think about now... Because of side-channel attacks we can't even trust the physical processor anymore." And of course, "We don't use IRC for communication anymore. We prefer a bloated version called Slack because we just didn't want to type in a server address...."

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