What Programming Is Like

A friend of mine posted this on their feed the other day.

My spouse (an artist, not in tech), working her way through a C++ class (part of a Digital Arts cirriculum). I: Let me know if you need help. She: Will do. Two hours later.. I: How's it going? She: Fine. I'm cheating. I: ??? She: I google for stuff I don't know. ... Do I tell her?

As a professional programmer with decades of experience, I can describe the full process:

Step 1: Google it. Find no applicable answers.

Step 2: Rephrase the question. Find search results that look relevant. Open them all in new tabs.

Step 3: Find that all of the results ask the exact question you’re trying to answer, but none have answers.

Step 4: Rephrase the question again using the extra keywords you found in other people’s questions. Get search results that are 80% the same. Click on the top new result.

Step 5: Find a solution that almost fits your problem and gets you 80% of the way there. It’s either missing a step or is outdated by a version of whatever you’re working on.

Step 6: Use that 80% solution to trial-and-error your way across the finish line.