Reason and remedy for the fear of programming

“He clearly must be very frustrated” I thought to myself reading one of his very long and bitter comments..

He was an expert in his field and he was upset about all the job offers that require, in his opinion, too much skills. One of this skills was programming.

I understood his frustration. I was in this kind of place many times. I wanted to do just one thing and keep getting better at it. It was simple and it was clean. I saw anything extra that I had to do as a threat.

I thought that writing long rants just doesn’t work for him. With each comment you could just feel how he’s getting more and more upset. He couldn’t accept the fact that his field is changing and if he wants to keep up he has to change too.

We’ve all been there. A new project or a new job. You’ve suddenly realize that you need to learn something new. It’s a necessity.

But you feel resistance. “I shouldn’t have to learn that” you think. It feels awful.

No matter if you’re an Analyst, Developer or Scientist. We resist the new and unknown. We want to stick to what we know and what we’re good at.

This becomes a problem when your field is changing, your job description is expanding or a new project require some new skill.

Why thought of learning programming seems to be almost offensive to some professionals?

First, it was because of fear. Fear of starting from scratch. Fear of being seen as beginner. After spending years doing your thing you suddenly have to get out of your comfort zone.

He saw programming as a distraction from his profession, not a tool that can help him doing his job better or a way to get him a new and an exiting job.

I’m not saying that every professional should learn programming, just that if you need to learn it you can learn it, it’s not magic.

Programming as a term that can be a bit misleading because it can have a lot of different meanings. Programming in it’s very basic form is very simple.

It gets more complex when you’re writing something big with a lot of moving parts or trying to solve a difficult problem which can be a lot of different things.

Most of the time you will write small scripts to automate things or process a lot of data. Not a big deal, really. You can do it (my inner Bob Ross is getting louder 😉

Before you write a long essay on why programming is not for you, please give it a go.




  1. I was introduced to some basic python in a remote sensing class. I did well, but I remember when the final exam was passed out and the back page was all questions about code. I heard sharp gasps around the room.

    Then in the next remote sensing classes I used R upon R upon R. That was almost fun, especially since my project became almost publishable. Coding is still a bit like broken English to me, but I wouldn’t call it scary. Just kinda frustrating sometimes. Other times really neat. But I prefer to give the specs and have someone else do the coding! That is something that has also worked well – specify, tweak, success!

  2. I am studying Geomatics in Romania (Master degree) and we have 2 programming courses: Python and Java. I have found a new love since we started learning Python, and i will continue learning programming and expanding my knowlege. I also applied to a web development course, i can’t wait for it to start 🙂

  3. There are some people who should not get into GIS programming. Those for whom the Tao of Code is an art form, a discipline, a form of expression as beautiful and efficient as the sword of a sumrai. No, programming is not for you. You will only be frustrated by the attitude of most managers who will tell you that your code must be good, fast, and cheap. And if you can deliver it, then your reward will be that you get to crank out some more of the same. Until you burn …out.
    I once thought I’d get into programming and learn it well, build my tools and aspire to be the best smoke carver I could be. But nobody has time for artists; hell, they don’t even require that the code be any good half the time! To them it’s all about making a deadline, nothing more.
    I did learn my craft pretty well, and was able to produce code that didn’t embarrass itself at least, but I always regretted that there was never enough time to sit back and appreciate the problem.
    It was true that rapid development is the way to go. The race is to the swift; you’ll not see any tortoises hanging around that winners circle! But your stuff has got to work as well. And you’ll be expected to make it work on the web most of the time, also. Also, it will have to work in a multitude of environments. (Including the future 128-bit quantum processor, etc. ) in short, it’s got to walk on water while turning said water into wine.
    So if you don’t have (or desire) the engineering mindset, then don’t get into programming! You will constantly have to educate yourself, learning new terms for old ones. And if that doesn’t scare you off, then go for it! Just don’t get seduced by the Art!

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