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Non Stop Coding - How Many Hours ?

How many hours (days?) can sit behind a desk programming. With the usual toilets/eating breaks ;-)

As far as I am concerned right now I stick to 8-10 hours a day.

But I'm usually burned out after 16 hours.

I've just heard stories/rumors when a few people can manage to cut high quality code for 48 hours in a row.

- As a teenager I was able to stick 48 hours in a row behind
my Commdore 64 hacking in assembler 6502 but it was by no means production code.

Saturday, April 12, 2003

I'm burned out after arouned 6 non-stop hours

Saturday, April 12, 2003

I can do 5 6-hour days/week for an extended period of time without burning out (the other 10+ hours are for talking to users, the boss, etc).  This is at top productivity.  I can work more hours, but my total number of features completed goes down slightly if I do it for too long.

When I'm really going full speed, and I'm working on a fascinating problem, I've been able to write good code for 23+ hours straight, but them I'm useless for the next several days.  But it's great way to solve some really hairy problems; there's no need to "save" complex mental state.

Eric Kidd
Saturday, April 12, 2003

There is a nice book called "Programmers at Work" from Susan Lammers.

Where some of the hot shot developers of the 80's,
just to name a few : Charles Simonyi, Dan Bricklin, Gary Kildalll, Butler Lamspon ...

Tell a bit about their programming philosophy and habits.

I would have love to see similar book but where the interviews are conducted in much more deptht, maybe Susan was not a programmer that's why she did not go into the details, also I'm not too sure if there's a market for such a book ...

Sunday, April 13, 2003

About 5 minutes.

Monday, April 14, 2003

In 1996 I was preparing my submission to a competition. I had been working on it for almost a year. At the last 3 days, I coded for 3 straight days with very very little sleep. At the last moments I finally introduced a null-pointer bug into my own code and I had to bring my machine to the venue to continue debugging to the last hour before deadline. Fortunately I won the competition and after reaching home I fell asleep in my bathtub.

Now I code for 1-2 hours and take a 30-mins break.

Monday, April 14, 2003

I still do 24+ hours straight sometimes to help pull of a demo deadline, and I am not even a real dev.

Just me (Sir to you)
Monday, April 14, 2003

Worst ever was 22 hours ... I can easily do 10-12 hours a day, but then I just dive too fast into coding without sufficiently thinking upfront on the data structuring, algorithms, etc and this decreases the overall quality of my code. I found that 6 hours a day gives me the best long term productivity.


Monday, April 14, 2003

45 hours on the trot is a figure I never want to see again... as for quality, I usually find it's more related to morale.

Mind you, after that amount of time, one doesn't tend to be all that cheery. If they stiff you on the bonus for meeting the deadline, then you'll find it hard to be productive at all.

Ever since I turned to charging by the hour, the all nighters haven't been anywhere near as frequent  :)

Arron Bates
Monday, April 14, 2003

I've done 36 hours before. (My first freelance gig. I made a patheitcally naive estimate of my time, and ended up crunching to finish.)

I never ever ever want to do it again.

Benji Smith
Monday, April 14, 2003

>How many hours (days?) can sit behind a desk programming. With the usual toilets/eating breaks ;-)

What's your definition of programming here? I sit behind a desk for about 12hrs a day but I am not programming the entire time. I read code, try stuff, think, research, and then actually type in code.

J. White
Monday, April 14, 2003

J white :

I meant just pure programming.

That's when you've got all the data flows, data structures crystalized either on a design doc or in your brain ;-)

Basically I meant for how long can you writte high quality production code ?

Sorry for the mangling English, I can't help it,
I'm French.


Monday, April 14, 2003

With your definition then I saw under an hour.

J. White
Monday, April 14, 2003

I mean say not saw

J. White
Monday, April 14, 2003

A couple hours. The thing is this: I've yet to run into a system where a single aspect of it was so large as to take longer, once thought out and designed.

I spent a few hours last week writing a brand new O/R mapping layer for my DB project. Took a couple hours to write the framework and move over the existing limited functionality. After which, it's very 'now what?'.

After that, I had to step back and stop to design the next step.

For me, doing something for that long means not thinking it through, and then is just 10+ hours of stringing new spaghetti around the program.

Mike Swieton
Tuesday, April 15, 2003

My top was 14 hours a day for 12 straight days. Oh, ok, we only did 7 hours on Sunday. We were working offsite at a major development partner to get our product OEMed into theirs before their ship-date. We made it and also won the respect of their development team. Their management was shocked when they got the bill - they had agreed to pay us by the hour.

In general I'm against working this way. Lots of high-tech companies seem to compensate with heroism for lack of planning. A developer should not be forced to work more than the standard hours as a policy. The result is bad code and burnout.

Personally, when I'm under pressure and have no external commitments, I try to identify the point where I start doing more harm than good. When I reach this point, I stop. Also, I find that going home to shower and sleep, I often wake up with an idea of how to solve a problem I was stuck on the night before.

Dan Shappir
Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Good responses, all.

It strikes me that one interesting way to respond to a *request* for a non-stop coding session is to tell your boss, "Okay, but understand that I'm going to need <a vacation/a big bonus/etc.> at the end."  That might discourage requests.

Brent P. Newhall
Tuesday, April 15, 2003

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