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Monday, September 8, 2008

The most rewarding experience for a developer

Recently two events happened that brought home the truth.

A few weeks ago, I read an interview with the noted Software Guru, Donald Knuth, titled "The 'Art' of Being Donald Knuth" in CACM July 2008, Vol. 51, No. 7, page 36-39, in which he said:
If you ask me what makes me most happy, number one would be somebody saying "I learned something from you". Number two would be somebody saying "I used your software."
When I read this, I thought would I be so lucky to experience the 'Number two' item so dear to Donald Knuth, which I wholeheartedly shared?

The second event took place last week. Out of the blue, not surprisingly uncommon, I received a phone call from my telecommunication provider using the guise of checking my account detail and services correctness trying to sell me more services.

On the other end of the line was a very happy lass who was skillful in not getting upset despite my not so unfriendly exchanges and my unwillingness to buy more services.

I gave my reasons to her and one of those was that I once worked for that company. She politely asked me where I worked, meaning the business units. So I obligatorily gave her the details and mentioned in passing that I was one of the original developers of a program called DRIFT.

When she heard that, she was so ecstatic that she drew the attention of her colleagues to listen in wondering what the fuss was all about. She was so glad that she was actually talking to a person who has developed the tool she is using and obviously appreciating it. Otherwise she would use this opportunity to pour out the complaints. I protested that I did not do it alone but part of a team.

As a developer who is fortunate enough to be allowed freedom to develop/architect something that a large corporation used as a mission critical application is one thing but having someone telling me that he or she is using it to do a job is something else.

I have finally experienced the same experience that matters so greatly to Donald Knuth. I can tell you how rewarding it is, the best accolade!

What is so amazing is that this tools was invented way back in the late '80 and early '90 and still in used and still has no peer. It stands the testimony of time with good design. Of course, it has been attended to it since I left the organisation some 10 years ago by a competent team otherwise it would be gone to disrepair denying me the chance to experience this.

It made my day but I still did not buy anything from this lass.

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