Is code art?

My favourite part of coding without a doubt is going deep into my head and thoughts, into what I call “The Zone”. It is a state that most programmers will be familiar with. You are one with the code. Thinking is sharp and time productive.

The Art of Code

Being primarily a game developer, I’ve worked closely with artists over the years. Sometimes I’ve worked with a huge team of artists. One day I overheard a conversation from one of that team, “We should make the decision, because it is a creative one, and we do the creative work here.”

There is no doubt that producing beautiful images from nothing but the imagination is creative. No one disputes that it is art. What about code? Is code art?

What is art?

Asking Google to “define art” it came up with:

The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.

When I sit down to code a project for the first time, nothing exists but an idea. I turn words into games, apps or websites. If done right, it can provoke an emotional or intellectual response. This fits the definition of
expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, albeit it, not in a typical form.

So yes, code is art.

I think that non-coders tend to think that there is just one way to put together code. Some coders feel this way too. In reality, there are 1000s of ways to do the same application. It is like building something out of Lego blocks. The difference is, we also make the blocks!

Fundamentalism in programming

We do have fundamentalist coders. These are the ones who often start sentences with the phrase “You should”. This is said either because they truly believe there is only one way to do code, or more likely to get us to conform to their style of coding.

Why would they try to convert us? So they don’t have to go outsize of their zone of comfort. They don’t have to work to understand our style. Sometimes just for ego.

Now sometimes there are legitimate reasons. A more efficient way of coding, standards that a team has set up or better performance.

I believe that code should be efficient, easy to read and understand.

Otherwise, quite please. I’m in my zone, and I’m creating art!

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