Saturday, July 19, 2008

How Did You Get Started in Software Development?

Rhys Campbell tagged me recently asking how I got started with developing software. Although I don't personally write software these days, I've certainly done my share of it in the past and I currently manage Change Corporation's body of knowledge in the area.

So let's get started:

How old were you when you started programming?

I can't really remember it was so long ago. But I think I was about 16 years old. I started writing "demos", which were effectively programs that did various visual effects (like flying through tunnels and what have you). The demos were entered into demo competitions. Very nerdy really.

I also wrote a music player application that played music stored in the S3M format. If anyone can remember, that was the Scream Tracker file format. The player was written in 80386 assembler and natively managed Expanded Memory (if anyone can remember that from the days of the 286 computer), hardware interrupts, and direct memory access (DMA). The player did real time digital mixing.

What was your first programming language?

I first started writing programs in C, but soon moved into 80386 assembler, and C++. Eventually I got into Visual Objects, Visual Basic, Java and then C#. I've also dabbled in Smalltalk and Eiffel.

What was the first real program you wrote?

I suppose this question depends on the definition of "real". The first commercial application I wrote was a consignment management system I think for a freight company. It was so long ago I can't really remember - but it was written in Visual Objects.

If you knew then what you know now would you have started programming?

Well I'm not really programming at all these days, so I guess if I knew then what I know now then I'd be doing Enterprise Architecture. Although it would be hard to get businesses to take me seriously in that capacity as a 16 year old. If I knew I would eventually end up doing Enterprise Architecture, then yes I would indeed have started programming as it eventually got me to where I wanted to be.

What’s the most fun you’ve ever had... programming?

Hard to say. There's always been good times and bad. I can't say that I've ever found commercial programming fun exactly. I've always found it rewarding and enjoyable. I would say that the demo programs I wrote many years ago were fun to write. I wasn't being paid for it, so they must have been. :-)