Life as a non-programmer at a software development company

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Working for a software developer company as a non-techy person can be confusing. Whilst we all have our own responsibilities and everyone has a totally valid, important role in the company, programming is a key element of the development process and technological quandaries are most often the topic of office discussion. (At lunchtime, we fiercely fight our corners in the good ol’ Apple vs. Android debate). 

We work in an open plan office which means us non-developers are always exposed to the tech talk and with that, come some moments of confusion, a bit of enlightenment and a lot of “…eh?”s. It’s nice that the confusion is shared and embraced.

Picture this: you’re typing away, in a pleasant state of busy-ness, preparing a report surrounded by a low hum of conversation between two programmers. Most of it is (let’s face it) boring enough for you to zone it out. “Blah blah blah… you’ll have to use a promise. Blah blah blah…” You hear a familiar word, think you probably misheard it and carry on writing that report, when all of a sudden: “…to fulfil the promise.” What? Are they actually talking about promises? What are they promising each other? Good code? For a while, you consider asking but eventually decide it’ll be funnier to never know.

‘Sass’ is another great example. I bet you never imagined that programming was a ‘sassy’ profession, but judging by the amount of times it’s used in conversation, we’re clearly very wrong. Programmers use sass and they know it (girrrrrl!):

UX design isn’t far behind in terms of words with multiple meanings. Hero images (not Marvel), hamburger menus, breadcrumbs. In fact, a surprising number of these words is food related. Perhaps the stereotypically slim graphic designer in thick-framed glasses and a fitted checked shirt actually thinks about food much more than other people? Hamburger wasn’t the first shape I thought of when I realised it’s a menu style with three lines, but to a hungry creative… I googled this and stumbled upon a helpful infographic listing the different types of menus. When I got to ‘Bento’ and ‘meatball’ styles I decided I’d had enough food-related design elements for one day.

Moving on – ‘device farms’ actually are what you imagine them to be. In my head they look like solar farms but with phones and tablets – it’s basically that but indoors. ‘Rubber ducking’ doesn’t involve baths, but can be a useful technique of working out a problem by explaining it to an inanimate object, in the hope that you come up with a solution in the process. Apparently happens more than you’d think. The words ‘parent’ and ‘child’ don’t mean what you think they might – when a developer says “Where’s your parent?” like he’s scalding a child in the park, don’t try telling them about where your mum’s gone on holiday. 

So, there you have it, this is what it’s like being a non-techy employee in a software company: confusing but hilarious. Working in tech can be great fun – you’re always learning new things and more often than not your list of responsibilities includes stuff you’d never expect, which is great for staying engaged! If you’re thinking of going into tech & digital but don’t fancy slaving over code – DO IT. There will always be a niche for you and your skills.

If you’re a programmer shaking your head at me, or nodding and chuckling at our confusion, and can think of some other amazing examples of software developer speak, let us know, we’d love to hear from you and feel better that other people out there share our pain!

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