Posts Tagged ‘art’

Is Systems Development An Art Or A Science?

by Tim Bryce - 31 March 2008

Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da VinciThis is an important question which is ultimately at the heart of a lot of the problems in systems and software development. There is one camp that believes development to be an art form requiring free-spirited creative types of people, and another camp believing it to be a science requiring people that are more disciplined and organized.

The difference between an art and a science is subtle but significant. An art form is based on the intuitiveness of the person performing the work, something that is difficult, if not impossible, to pass on to another human being. For example, apprentices serving under an artist may try for years to emulate the master, but may never attain his level of skill and creativity. In contrast, a science is based on a governing body of concepts and principles and, as such, can be easily taught to others. From this perspective, programming can certainly be viewed as a science as it has certainly been taught and passed on to others for many years; further, it involves certain governing principles in terms of language syntax, approaches to defining program logic and construction. Some might argue the physical design of a report or screen requires creativity, and there is a certain element of truth to this as some look better than others. But even the design of reports and screens can be governed by certain principles in terms of layout, navigation, color schemes, etc.

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