"Programmers and artists meet and do battle"

There aren't very many articles about software development that have made me laugh, but here's one of them: Software Development's Evolution towards Product Design, by a guy called Danc.

Artist and Programmer
from article, © danc

In addition to being an insightful view into the evolution of software development, the article is full of descriptions of the development process that every developer (and artist who has had to work with one) will find familiar. Because I'm often one of the people used to bridge the communication barrier between designers and coders, my favorite section is the one called, "The Late Business Era: Programmers and artists meet and do battle." Here's an excerpt:

None of the freshly introduced team members spoke one another’s language. The artists talked about fluff like color and mood. The marketing people made outrageous requests with zero comprehension about technical feasibility. The programmers were suddenly enslaved by bizarre, conflicting feature demands that they did not understand. “Make it friendlier” translates poorly into C++ code.

Let’s take something as simple as making an interface more appealing.

  • The artist would whip up a picture sporting rounded corners and more pleasing colors. They’d send it to over to the programmer with a hand scribbled note “Make this.”
  • The programmer then would either A) State that an infinite number of programmers could never finish such a technical abomination or B) Recreate the image using rectangles and the preexisting color scheme.
  • Everyone would then rage at one another about their general incompetence.

I love it.

I have seen cases when all of the necessary roles for successful software design are rolled up into a single person, but the combination seems to be incredibly rare.