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Where's Your Coding Happy Place? 508

jammag writes "Cranking out code — your very best code — requires being in the optimal environment, muses developer Eric Spiegel. He explores the pitfalls and joys of the usual locales, cubicle, home, the beach. He claims he's done his best coding on an airplane. In the end, though, he suggests that the best environment is a matter of the environment inside yourself, your internal mood — and to hell with the cubicle or wherever. You have to be focused on quality, regardless of the idiot clients. It's all inside your mind. Where's your coding happy place?"
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Where's Your Coding Happy Place?

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  • by James Skarzinskas ( 518966 ) on Monday April 20, 2009 @03:28PM (#27650701)

    Lightly sweetened breakfast tea, rainy weather outside, window cracked with a brisk morning breeze.

    Oh, yeah, and vim. Emacs can suck it.

  • by mcrbids ( 148650 ) on Monday April 20, 2009 @03:35PM (#27650843) Journal

    Sad to say, but the "best place" to code in depends on what your goal is.

    After the best quality code? The best place is a quiet place, free of distractions, where the problem can be easily and clearly understood.

    Want the best mood while coding? That's when you consider the balcony of a beach-front apartment, or a nice table with comfy chairs at a restaurant with a view for the afternoon.

    Pick your goals, then come up with what you are after.

    The trick is to find a place with a good combination of comfort for long-term developer happiness and contentment and actual good results. So a nice office with full snacks, comfortable chairs, nice lounge, music, being treated with courtesy and respect, decent pay, decent benefits, and having the freedom to develop in a non-restrictive manner, while still being held accountable for the result is a good mix, and that's where most businesses tend.

    Including my own.

  • by bigredradio ( 631970 ) on Monday April 20, 2009 @03:36PM (#27650867) Homepage Journal
    Sadly, by the time I get to a computer I often lose some great coding ideas.
  • by Dr. Manhattan ( 29720 ) <[sorceror171] [at] []> on Monday April 20, 2009 @03:36PM (#27650869) Homepage
    I need music with no vocals - mostly classical and techno. I have a special playlist called "coding" for those times when I really need to be focused.
  • Next to the fireplace, with my son sitting on my back. Doesn't get any better than that. I would have thought it distracting to work from home like this, and instead I think I've written more, and better code, than I have before. Just awesome. One thing I could improve, would be to have some music going... but that's just laziness on my part.

  • by Frag-A-Muffin ( 5490 ) on Monday April 20, 2009 @03:41PM (#27651003) Homepage

    Those sound like mostly horrible conditions to work in! :)

    Although place is important, time is probably MORE important. And this is where people will differ even more. I know people that will get up at 5am and get most of their "good" work done by 9am. That's not for me. :)

    My personal best time is later at night. a) most people are sleeping, so not too many IM distractions. b) it's quiet, the neighbourhood is quiet, wife is most likely asleep, it's quiet. I can think.

    In terms of place, most of the time, these night sessions are done in my home office.

  • Silence (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tritonman ( 998572 ) on Monday April 20, 2009 @03:42PM (#27651019)
    Anywhere there is silence. I hate trying to think while listening to people blabbing on the phone or BSing with each other across their cubes.
  • The Zone (Score:5, Insightful)

    by clinko ( 232501 ) on Monday April 20, 2009 @03:42PM (#27651033) Journal

    I don't have a place, I have music and caffeine. If I hear old Crystal Method or Orbital, I immediately think of late nights in the zone with Mountain Dew and Code.

    The only enemy of "The Zone" were morning birds.

    If I heard birds chirping, I knew I didn't have much time left before my mind would go.

  • Work! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by benjfowler ( 239527 ) on Monday April 20, 2009 @03:45PM (#27651081)

    My favourite coding place? Well, I code for a living, and I have to say work, without a doubt. I'm far too easily distracted -- work is the worst place to get stuff done, except for all the others.

    That said, badly-designed workplaces can destroy productivity. If your workplace is anything like mine, where your employer doesn't give a rat's arse about their developers' productivity, everyone will be sat at packed-in "open plan" offices, where every stray, stupid remark, every loud phone call, every meeting and every joke (and resulting braying laughter) meld together to create a totally useless work environment.

    Perhaps that question should be rephrased to "what time of day do you get most work done?". Given the City's workaholic culture, most folks leave the office at 7.30pm, so my productivity peaks some time after that.

    Yeah, I'm a sad bastard with no life :-)

  • by dazedNconfuzed ( 154242 ) on Monday April 20, 2009 @03:54PM (#27651265)

    Best? Coding in my cubicle, from 4-11PM, trance/techno playing at moderate volume, and absolutely no interruptions. Productivity is amazing.

    Unfortunately, for no articulable reason I'm required to work 8AM-5PM, interruptions are constant (walk-in/stand-up meetings happening constantly, PA system calling people, factory running across the hall, doors never stay closed. Productivity is ... well ... go figure.

  • by zbend ( 827907 ) on Monday April 20, 2009 @04:02PM (#27651387)
    It sounds like a joke, but I seriously code best with a gentle beer buzz, my boss will never believe me, but its true.
  • Re:Beer (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 20, 2009 @04:02PM (#27651391)

    Stoner mistakes aside, toking relaxes me to the point where I can get really creative and get a lot of stuff done. Only if I could get high at work...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 20, 2009 @04:20PM (#27651739)

    For me it's not so much a problem losing ideas en route to a computer, but losing the desire to code by the time I've reached it ...

  • My coding? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CompMD ( 522020 ) on Monday April 20, 2009 @04:22PM (#27651765)

    My office, from 8am-5pm, with soft music playing on the speakers, overhead lights off, desk lights on, door open half way (I'm in a somewhat quiet hallway).

    Why 8-5? Because its my job, not my life.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 20, 2009 @04:22PM (#27651771)

    For starters: Don't make me feel like a criminal because I forgot my access card. Don't hire minimum wage jerks in uniforms to eyeball everyone suspiciously. Don't make me walk past 60 cubes just like mine so that by the time I sit down I feel like the worthless piece of interchangeable shit you obviously think we all are. Don't send me weekly emails reminding me that my every electronic move is logged. Get rid of those freaking eyeballs in the ceiling every 20 feet. Shove your 50 page human resource manual up your ass. Help me forget that working wasn't always like this and doesn't have to be now.

    See? I am starting connect with my inner muse already...

  • by talldean ( 1038514 ) on Monday April 20, 2009 @04:40PM (#27652079) Homepage
    Anywhere without other people distracting me. Microsoft's Project Manager book pointed out that developers work best if they're interrupted once an hour or less. And they're damn right.
  • Obvious (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Locke2005 ( 849178 ) on Monday April 20, 2009 @04:44PM (#27652149)
    My most productive coding environment is any one in which I don't have access to slashdot! But seriously, I need closed doors so I'm not subjecting to interruptions, and fast 'net access for googling for solutions to problems rather then figuring them out by myself.
  • by edittard ( 805475 ) on Monday April 20, 2009 @05:23PM (#27652717)

    bright moonlit night outside, but I'm stuffed in a windowless basement

    Perhaps my neck elevation angle is insufficient, but if I was in a windowless basement how would I know what the lunar illumination situation was?

  • In the shower (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MtlDty ( 711230 ) on Monday April 20, 2009 @05:23PM (#27652719)

    No seriously. I've had some real moments of epiphany whilst mulling over problems from the day before. Sometimes its only when you're away from your keyboard that you start looking at the bigger picture rather than the minutiae of individual classes/methods

  • by Ortega-Starfire ( 930563 ) on Monday April 20, 2009 @05:49PM (#27653129) Journal

    Damp? No. Cold? Yes. And Winter is a bitch.

  • by Weaselmancer ( 533834 ) on Monday April 20, 2009 @07:14PM (#27654029)

    at work I'm not allowed to listen to music at all.

    Your employers are douchebags.

    What the crap could it possibly matter if you have an MP3 player stuck in your ears? I'd love to hear somebody actually make a good case for it. If you're a doctor and you have to listen for pages, or a jet pilot who needs to hear audio alarms - fine. But a coder? Give me a break.

    This sort of micro managing "you're still in kindergarten" crap always pisses me right off. It insures an unhappy workplace, and that insures poor results. Who wants to do their very best for someone who treats them like a freaking toddler?

  • Re:Oddly enough... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by LaskoVortex ( 1153471 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @01:19AM (#27656465)

    you should be ashamed you are not among them.

    The layers should be ashamed that my techniques work!

Money can't buy love, but it improves your bargaining position. -- Christopher Marlowe