ACA Blog

ACA Blog

June 2021


Code cooking like a chef

Jo VrevenJo Vreven

I know, most people are “fed up” with cooking shows, but I just love them!developer chef

It’s not that I use them to learn how to cook or something, but they just remind me a lot of the job I’m doing each day. It is the closest I get to explaining to my wife what the essence is of what I do. She actually still doesn’t get it… but it is the most comparable example that I can give here.

Ok, I write code, I tell my computer to read this code and out comes an application… simple. But that is not the essence… that is just plain nerdy 😉

Do you feel like working tomorrow?

I have certain friends that complain about going to work tomorrow, they work a 9 to 5 job and try to cheat the time-registration machine to get off work 5 minutes earlier. The ones that make you feel guilty when they ask you on a Sunday evenening: “Pfff, I have to work tomorrow… Do you feel like working tomorrow?”. It’s not that I never have those days, but generally speaking, I love what I do. It doesn’t really feel like working. It’s more like solving puzzles all day.

The thing that frustrates me about working, is not going to work, but getting confronted with code that is clearly a quick and dirty hack. Code that lacks passion, takes the lead when you’re thinking about the worst possible way to solve this problem. Written by a developer with no pride whatsoever. It is a guy doing his job, who acts exactly the same as certain of my friends, without true passion.

Why coding is exactly the same as cooking!


Back to cooking..
I watched a 3 star chef eating a meal on television and nearly crying about how bad it was. He was yelling and screaming at the chef. Why? I mean why does he care? He can go right back to his kitchen, never seeing this amateur chef again and preparing a kick-ass dinner. He just can’t let it go… Let me tell you, he probably couldn’t even sleep because of it. You can’t get frustrated on this level if you don’t have any passion. It’s the passion for the job that makes him act like that.

There are cooking shows exactly focussing on the same problem. They go and visit a certain small bistro, with cooks that clearly lost their souls. A grey interior with almost no customers, they have been going on too long to see what is obviously wrong with the place and the food. The cook comes in and pinpoints several problems, uses his enthousiasm to bring back the light and the passion in their jobs.

Passion, the essence of good programming

According to me, passion is the essence of good programming and coding… It is probably important in lots of other jobs as well, but in programming it is essential. If I don’t get angry about bad code, it means I don’t get frustrated, it means my passion is exstinguishing. Next thing you know, I’ll be switching off my brain at 5 o’clock and complaining to my friends that I have to put it back on at 9 next morning. I’ll maybe even let bad code grow and grow in the application, it will go viral faster then you can imagine, taking over what could be the best application ever.

Cooking shows are a visualisation of programming. Like a good cook can judge the cuisson of a piece of meat, or the spices of a sauce, a good programmer can smell bad code from miles away. When they are creating a dish using the food they have at hand, I see myself typing code with the api’s on the classpath. When they are dressing the plate, I am trying to adjust my css file to get my menu just one pixel higher. Every time I see a chef enjoy a good meal, I know exactly how he feels. It’s a green build after a complete domain refactoring. It’s a nasty threading issue that’s fixed.

When they are angry about the quality of a certain dish, I see myself aiming for perfection and getting frustrated because it is just not perfect enough.



It’s like the dutch band, the “Tröckener Kecks” once put it:
“Doe het èn voor het geld, èn voor jezelf maar doe het.
Doe alles wat je doet met hart en ziel”.

Do it for the money, do it for yourself but do it.
Do everything you do with heart and soul.



Blog written by Jo Vreven