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Jason Leow ~ golifelog.com
Jason Leow ~ golifelog.com

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Coding is unforgiving af for beginners

It’s like failing a writing exam because you had ONE spelling error.


Warning: Code newbie rant incoming.

I spent a good chunk of time trying to figure out why my script didn't work. Can you see why?

<div id="resizable"></div>

<script type="text/javascript">

  $("#resizeable").resizable()

</script>
Enter fullscreen mode Exit fullscreen mode

All because of ONE "e". Resizable vs resizeable. One tweeny lack of alertness, and everything breaks. The problem is most code editors can't pick up spelling errors/mismatches like that. The level of accuracy needed for human beings to code - perfect and error-ZERO - is like asking human beings to be computers.

There's something wrong with this. We've got things the wrong way round. I understand that computers need very precise instructions to be able to execute a command. But to expect that same level of syntactic precision in human beings...is unrealistic. We have limited energy levels, our attention wavers, we get distracted easily, and after staring at the same words for some time, we miss the trees for the forest. And this also doesn't take into account cultural differences where we spell words differently (color vs colour, anyone? Accordian or accordion?), or people who's native language is not English and not really proficient in it, which significantly increases the error rate.

This is so frustrating.

Code is computer-centric, not human-centred. The user experience of coding is broken. Our tools should defer to us, not the other way round! There's not much one can do about it. The syntax is fixed. Apologies if it's beginning to read like a child's tantrum here. I'm just a code rookie ranting, but because I'm still new to this, I find myself questioning how things are done, and how things should be done. Maybe you're a code veteran and you'd developed a great workflow to prevent this from happening. Double-check your work. Get someone else to look at it for you. Take a break and come back to it. Etc etc.

I get it.

But that's still a work-around. That's still us being slave to our tools.

How many productive developer hours worldwide are wasted because of stupid mistakes like this? Every minute a developer wastes trying to solve spelling mistakes, a kitten dies.

I detest this, because this is a solvable problem (or "solveable"??). This is a design problem. As a designer, I see it clearly enough. When the syntax and the tools are designed at the onset, the authors probably didn't think that it's important to account for human failings like these.

Something that works similar to a normal dictionary/spelling feature in MS Word might help somewhat with checking for inconsistencies. The ideal would be something that can check for mismatches between e.g. your style classes/ids versus what's written elsewhere in the head/body/script sections. Why isn't this already a thing? Is there a Brackets/VS Code extension somewhere that does this?

I'll be super happy to be proven wrong in this case.


Follow my daily writings on Lifelog, where I write about learning to code, goals, productivity, indie hacking and tech for good.

Discussion (1)

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terabytetiger profile image
Tyler V. (he/him) • Edited

I believe there are spell check extensions for VS Code - but I believe this is a feature of coding rather than a break point.

For example, there are a lot of times that I have an array of users which I might call users and when I loop through it I would refer to the individual items in the array as a user in my code. If spell check were automated, how would it know when users is correct vs when user is correct?

My personal workflow has been molded around catching potential spelling errors - I've modified my VS Code to use lime green and "deeppink" as the highlight colors when I am over a word or using find/replace so it becomes apparent when a word I'm on isn't spelled the same as somewhere else.

I really appreciate your posts about developer experience - it's always nice to see things from another's perspective. Particularly the post I commented on yesterday about code as a painting I've been thinking about non-stop since (which I was on the way to comment on again when I found this post lol)😅