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

isaacdlyman profile image
Isaac Lyman

I don't know anyone who spends most of their time on the job typing code as fast as they can. That's the Hollywood stereotype, but it's exactly the opposite of real programming. I spend most of my time on the job researching and thinking.

I type nearly 100 WPM, as tested my senior year of college. I do not consider this a necessary skill for programming.

In new product development, a coder may write 100 lines of original code in a day (he or she may contribute more lines, but much of it will be copied and pasted). In a more established codebase, ~10 lines a day is the norm (according to Fred Brooks's The Mythical Man-Month). You don't need to type 100 WPM or even 10 WPM to achieve that.

In fact, there is nothing I care about less in a programmer than whether they can type quickly. It might look impressive in a coding test, but not as impressive as a clear, brief and correct solution to the question.

The one thing that typing is really good for is writing about programming, which may not be super important for programming, but can do wonders for your career. A well-kept blog can be as valuable as a resume. I recommend learning to type for that reason alone.

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

I suspect it's because you type fast enough that you don't realize how important the skill is. Consider all these things that you use typing for:

  • writing email
  • entering ticket information
  • writing documentation
  • chatting in slack
  • writing comments
  • asking questions online / searching
  • shell commands / app navigation
  • refactoring code
  • new code

If you're a slow typer you'll find your entire day slowed down. It's not about how fast you can write code, but about how fast you can type anything.

During coding I also find that slower typers are generally worse programmers as well. I don't know if this is causation, or merely correlation. I'd guess it's not just coincidental though. Your mind moves quickly. If your hands lag behind you'll have less ability to experiment, and you'll forget ideas that were forming.

isaacdlyman profile image
Isaac Lyman

These are good points that I hadn't considered. Thanks for sharing.