Efficiency and innnoation boosters or making the lazy lazier?

Developer coding tricks: being lazy or efficient?

Eirini-Eleni Papadopoulou
developer tricks
© Shutterstock /Iurii Stepanov

One of the greatest entrepreneurs of our times has justified laziness as a source of efficiency. Here we try to identify the positive and negative effects of developer coding tricks. Is the usage of coding tricks a driver of efficiency and innovation or does it promote laziness?

I choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.

Bill Gates

One of the greatest entrepreneurs of our times has justified laziness as a source of efficiency. Nonetheless, the debate on whether task shortcuts and tricks are an excuse to, simply, do less work or a way to be more efficient, still lingers on. When it comes to development coding and the debate about laziness vs efficiency, there are a couple of variables we need to keep in mind.

Preserving motivation

Most developers live by the DRY principle, which constitutes the aim to avoid repetition by creating abstractions that can be used again at a later time. In this sense, a developer tends to be lazy by creating tools that can help him/her avoid redundancy.

Another variable is decision fatigue. Swizec Teller argues that being tired leads to bad decisions and even making too many decisions leads to bad decisions, therefore, getting tired by, for example, repetition and redundancy while coding, can lead to decision fatigue. In the same article, Swizec Teller also argues that a programmer’s productivity can be negatively affected by hard work.

Therefore, time-saving measures like coding tricks can improve developers’ work and preserve their motivation. 

SEE ALSO: JavaScript cheat sheet: Tips & tricks

Efficiency and innovation boosters

Another point in favor of using coding tricks is the argument of efficiency. Developers need to be able to not only complete a task in a working manner but also meet deadlines that correspond with clients’ needs and expectations. For these reasons, it is often humanly impossible to complete multiple tasks while coding in full detail, using no tricks. Therefore, tools and tricks created out of developers laziness could boost efficiency and time-saving. Philipp Lenssen argues that a good programmer is a lazy programmer, the sense that “that tools and processes that come out of this endeavor fired by laziness will speed up the production“.

What is more, there are arguments claiming that laziness can be the driver behind innovation. It is believed that without laziness, the innovation and growth of the development discipline would have been simply nonexistent.

Making the lazy lazier

Nonetheless, it would be inconsiderate to assume that developing coding tricks can have nothing but positive influence on developers’ performance. Too much comfort can often affect performance negatively. Creating too many ways to speed up processes can hinder innovative thinking. When there are no obstacles to be surpassed, there are no incentives for new, better or faster ways to code.

Developers should be mindful of getting too comfortable, rely extensively on existent coding tricks and risk forgetting how to innovate. As developer coding is a platform that can promote innovation, we need to be careful not to eliminate the drivers behind it. There is room for comfort, efficiency and innovation without the one taking over the other.

Eirini-Eleni Papadopoulou
Eirini-Eleni Papadopoulou was the editor for Coming from an academic background in East Asian Studies, she decided that it was time to go back to her high-school hobby that was computer science and she dived into the development world. Other hobbies include esports and League of Legends, although she never managed to escape elo hell (yet), and she is a guest writer/analyst for competitive LoL at TGH.

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