A coder’s moment: Where did these 1004 lines of code come from?

I just had a coder’s moment. I’m debugging an application now that I’ve been working on for nearly 3 months. I’m inside one class, scanning the code to add a conditional and it hits me: ‘Where did all this code come from?’. What started with 3 lines of Flex auto-generated mxml is now 1004 lines of code and counting.

I’ve had moments like these before. I’m sure we’ve all had them. I tend to get philosophical sometimes. Thinking about how my work, typing code that becomes an app is different from other occupations where building is involved. On the one hand, I think about how nothing I’ve built in my 10 years of web and application development has yet to have more than 4 years of active life. I compare that to someone who pours cement or builds buildings, things that are around for hundreds of years. And I am ok with this. I’m not building for indefinite longevity, but rather stability, usage and hopefully enjoyment.

The things that I’ve built get visited and used. I know there aren’t many buildings in the world that accommodate 30 to 40 million users like Yahoo! Maps. On sheer volume alone, I can look back on my projects and know that they were accessible and were useful in ways, that while seemingly much more dispensable, were within reach of millions more than a hundred year old building.

So if you are a coder, enjoy what you are doing as you build it. While it won’t be around to show your grandkids, you have an unlikely chance of getting pummeled by a steel beam while coding it.