Discussion on: Programmers that can't type shall be shunned and treated with disdain.

alainvanhout profile image
Alain Van Hout

Like others have already mentioned, I don’t believe the speed at which characters of code can be produced is a significant bottleneck in actually producing code. Even if we disregard that, in my experience, knowing a sufficient amount of the shortcuts of your IDE (or tool of your choice) has a far greater impact on the speed at which characters of code are produced. (I’d argue that IDE shortcuts have added, and greater, value because they avoid lots of potential typos, but that’s a different discussion)

What may be significantly impacted by slow typing, is that your pair programming buddy gets frustrated because things are going much slower than they’d like. Barring rare exceptions of truly slow typing, that’s however more of a problem of the frustratee than the trustrator.

Now to actually address the core observation of the post: I can type more than fast enough, as can most of my colleagues, but when somebody is looking over your shoulder (like in pair programming, but more so in interviews), that typing speed and proficiency tend to go waaaay down (at least for a while). So you’re not actually measuring their skills in general, but only within a very specific situation and with a very specific focus (which is a general and considerable weakness of interviews).

mortoray profile image
edA‑qa mort‑ora‑y Author

What prompted me to write this comic was a few instances of truly slow typing. It was my frustration in an interview that the person just wouldn't finish any significant part of the code due to this problem.

The pressure of having somebody look over your shoulder is significant, and you are right to consider this when in such a situation. The frustration somebody feels when watching somebody peck away at the keys is also significant. Both sides must be considered. I'd say it's much easier to improve your typing skills than change the patience of the people watching you -- regardless of how fair this seems.

If you have an IDE that serves your needs, then great, use it. If you need to refactor some code, and you have some IDE wizardry that does it quickly, then by all means, take that approach. I'd suspect that good keyboard skills aid a lot here as well -- shortcuts are not any faster if you spend your time hunting for the shortcut key.