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Code as an Art

There are many different topics that I could use as my first topic but I think I'll start with expressing how code is actually an art form.

Woah what?

Yes. Code == Art. In Merriam Webster, Art is described as:


"Something that is created with imagination and skill and that is beautiful or that expresses important ideas or feelings"

This could very easily apply to code. Programmers, like artists use their own distinct patterns and styles when it comes to writing code. To create something with code is no simple task. No matter what language you are using there are many different aspects you have to consider. From what framework to use, to how to optimize it/make it faster. A programmer needs to be able to see the beauty of the program beyond its user interface. They should be able to take pride in knowing that what they have created, is a distinct form of creation that stemmed from their brain. A fully formed program represents a beautiful combination of imagination and skill that could not be possible without the right tools.

To draw out the analogy further, if I were to draw a picture of a man driving a car, I would have several things to consider:

  • Paper or canvas?
  • Pencil, pen, charcoal, pastel?
  • Should the man be happy and looking at us or angry and looking away?
  • Do I need to add detail to the flowers in the background or are they fine as they are?


Very similar questions are asked when starting out writing a program:

  • Sublime Text or Atom?
  • Python, Java, Rust, Go?
  • Should it be built as a web app or as a native application?
  • Should I move that subroutine to a new file or keep it in the main program folder?

There are many parallels between the two and the connections continue to grow as the two fields expand over time. Both fields have a full communities filled with devoted members who are adamant about polishing what they've created and putting it on display for the world. From a museum to Github.

Code like art is several little pieces put together. Just as several thousand strokes of a paint brush created the Mona Lisa, several thousand strokes make up Unix. Both are monuments of their time that helped to push an era of a new form of art.

Also, Code reflects on oneself. It is distinct and reflects the programmer's ideas through how it was written. While many conform to the style guides, a programmer has the option of deviating from the beaten path and having their own code style.

In addition, code is designed to be interpreted (no pun intended) just like a painting. You can look at it for hours and still not understand its meaning. One has to be in the right mindset to fully grasp what the code is trying to achieve. 

Lastly, if you're still not convinced, take a look at the Source code poetry challenge.

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