Is Coding Art?


An article on Slashdot had piqued my interest… Should coding or programing be considered art work?

I tend to think so. Yesterday, I had to write a variable data application in which I had to deal with 4 versions, 3 non-english languages including Japanese characters as outlines not a font and place a variable in the middle. I had to get really creative. The code I wrote isn’t pretty, but not all art is pretty, but it was creative. Also, someone else would have done it differently or possibly not at all.

The parallels to art for coding are there. Take a still life painting. 10 artists will paint/draw 10 different interpretations of a still life setting. Sure the end result is the same, a painting/drawing representing the still life, using different styles, techniques, etc. But we should be able to see the still life. Coding is the same way. We approach a task, use our tools, and write code to accomplish the task, test it and then ultimately release it.

What takes coding beyond art is the potential for collaboration and improvement. The fact that I can share my code with another programmer and have them look at it and offer their input to improve it or they could take it and use it in their programs. I don’t think artists have this same luxury. Sure they can take another artist’s process or method and recreate it, but rarely do they take an unfinished or someone else’s work and paint on top of it.

Fundamentally, coding is art. I wish I could fetch good money for some of the coding creations I do, but like most struggling artists, it’ll have to be awhile.

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