33 Best Programming Quotes To Inspire Developers

Updated Feb 14, 2023.
Programming Quotes

Being a developer can be a lot to handle with the demand for technology in the 21st century. It's like a never-ending demand for these services.

Putting into consideration the deadlines, code pressure, decoding, debugging, and just general tech stuff, you need to find some motivation for your soul.

This profession has changed our world and touched the lives of many in a vast series of industries.

A good mind is the first step to good creation which is why these quotes promise to cheer you up and push you to aim for more.

Few tips for programmers to stick to maintain a habit of learning or practicing, schedule your tasks to avoid procrastination, join a community of learners and follow trends in the industry to know what is happening.

Here are a few programming quotes to ponder as you take a deep plunge into the programming world today.

Smart Programming Quotes

“Sometimes, it pays to stay in bed on Monday rather than spending the rest of the week debugging Monday's code.”
—  Dan Salomon.

Being a programmer allows you to enjoy the flexibility of working from home. This quote highlights the need to take a break when it is really needed.

As you work on codes, bugs are around the corner waiting to spring up and ruin hours that should go to resourceful work.

Rather than working on a code when you are stressed and have barely rested, try to give it time. You would be surprised that sometimes all you need to do is give it time and you would find your way around it.

“I think Microsoft named .Net so it wouldn't show up in a Unix directory listing.”
— Oktal.

Microsoft tried to name a bunch of directories under “.Net”. Some called it a move to kind of monopolize the internet, others saw it as a catchphrase to symbolize that the internet is best seen under the lens of Microsoft. But Unix saves directories under one tree and Oktal saw it as the move Microsoft was making, avoiding Unix.

An important lesson to learn is to be clear with your objectives when programming. Don't just choke and generalize.

“Most software today is very much like an Egyptian pyramid with millions of bricks piled on top of each other, with no structural integrity, but just done by brute force and thousands of slaves.”
— Alan Kay.

It's better to take your time and work on something efficient and effective than spend all your time running through tons of codes and software that defeat the original idea of reliability and structural soundness.

Don't take your rest for granted. There's a thin line between actually working and just exerting force in the wrong places.

“Come to think of it, there are already a million monkeys on a million typewriters, and Usenet is nothing like Shakespeare.”
— Blair Houghton.

Do not get it twisted. There is a large margin of difference in software, programming languages, and more. They may look familiar but the difference is clear.

Regardless of how saturated the tech industry is in recent times, the hunger for quality remains unsatisfied and insatiable. So go ahead and give quality. Trust me, people know the difference.

“The most amazing achievement of the computer software industry is its continuing cancellation of the steady and staggering gains made by the computer hardware industry.”
— Henry Petroski.

Programming is not just a job to back cash. You should be proud of your profession. What was available in past years was hardware that we were thankful for but gave numerous headaches.

Since the emergence of software, life has gotten better for the average human being.

Next time you work on creating different types of software, give yourself a moment to bask in the beauty of what you are creating. You are making life easier for countless people.

“Measuring programming progress by lines of code is like measuring aircraft building progress by weight.”
– Bill Gates.

Less is sometimes more. Don't be intimidated by how weighty or put-together someone's code looks. In programming, having lesser lines of code does not take from your progress.

Keep building with what you have. After all, your users will pay anything to have seamless and easy-to-use software.

“As soon as we started programming, we found to our surprise that it wasn't as easy to get programs right as we had thought.  Debugging had to be discovered.  I can remember the exact moment when I realized that a large part of my life from then on was going to be spent in finding mistakes in my own programs.”
— Maurice Wilkes. 

Just like creating anything, it is not easy. As you create programs, you discover bugs. The humility and thoroughness of programming are to be your own critic. Debugging is finding the errors in your program, isolating the source, and completely removing it.

Rolling out programs is great, debugging is the next and this allows you to have room for continuous improvement. The efficiency of your program also improves. It may be time-consuming, to say the least, but it is worth it.

Debugging made easy
Source: ResearchGate
“Object-oriented programming offers a sustainable way to write spaghetti code. It lets you accrete programs as a series of patches.”
― Paul Graham.

Spaghetti otherwise known as unstructured code will give you a big thank you if you can make use of object-oriented programming to give your code structure.

It can be frustrating to be told you are incompetent because of having spaghetti codes. Rather than feel bad or less of yourself, use the OOP and your issues are fixed.

“For a long time it puzzled me how something so expensive, so leading edge could be so useless.  And then it occurred to me that a computer is a stupid machine with the ability to do incredibly smart things, while computer programmers are smart people with the ability to do incredibly stupid things.  They are, in short, a perfect match.”
— Bill Bryson.

There are a couple of weird things programmers do, one of which is sending unhelpful error messages or technical jargon.

A programmer takes complex code to build a user-friendly and easily understandable interface.

To defeat the original purpose of software development is to complicate the user's time using your product or service. Be relatable and have your users in mind.

“It has been said that the great scientific disciplines are examples of giants standing on the shoulders of other giants.  It has also been said that the software industry is an example of midgets standing on the toes of other midgets.”
— Alan Cooper.

It's an interconnected framework and you are part of an industry that draws from various sources to be where it is today.

Just like spaghetti codes needing object-oriented programming, you can work with already existing facts.

Using other programmers' experiences and methods to build something for yourself does not make you a novice.

On the contrary, it shows how professional and smart you are. You learn from the mistakes of others and leverage the good.

Don't be the heady programmer that burns valuable time falling into pits that could have been avoided by paying heed to instructions.

“The best error message is the one that never shows up.”
– Thomas Fuchs.

When it comes to programming, expecting loopholes is a good move. Do not go around feeling invincible or walking on air.

If you have not been met with bugs, you are probably not looking hard enough.

Check for underlying issues.

Error messages are guides to the user explaining the issues they have encountered, why, and how to solve them.

Common mistakes with error messages are ambiguous or unclear messages, condescending language/ blaming the user, poor placement of error messages, and unclear expectations or solutions.

Your error messages require as much effort as the programming because users will be frustrated when they cannot understand or move past a certain stage due to mistakes and an unclear or unhelpful error message.

“I'm not a great programmer; I'm just a good programmer with great habits.”
― Kent Beck.

Hmm, do you believe those goals are attainable? Can you climb up the tech ladder? Or the bigwigs are just lucky to be up there?

The difference between your dream and where you are is the commitment, dedication, and every other discipline you can deploy. To build software you code.

To get to where you need to be, cherish and use good habits. Great habits turn good programmers into great programmers.

“When to use iterative development? You should use iterative development only on projects that you want to succeed.”
– Martin Fowler.

Software development is ever-growing, and dynamic as well. And the employment rate is rapidly increasing.

However, it is great to start with itinerary development. Itinerary development allows you as a developer to partition and test your app in stages. Why is this a genius idea for the one who wants to succeed?

Agile techniques, like Scrum, are noteworthy instances. Sectioning your project allows you to tackle the errors as they come and monitor the process flow without allowing it to get bulky and hard to detect errors.

Deleted code is debugged code.
— Jeff Sickel.

Coding and programming take a lot of work and effort. One of the qualities that come with being a programmer is a good sense of judgment and this quote by Jeff Sickel is a note to every programmer.

You might be trying to debug something that is a waste of time, you need to know when to stop and start afresh.

Deleting a code will thrash off your hard work but on the bright side, it will get rid of the bugs, and help you make a better version. See it as a quick stop and not the end of your journey.

“First, solve the problem. Then, write the code.”
– John Johnson.

To solve the problem, you have to understand it in detail, which is why going over the details matters. After you identify the error or bug, proceed with actionable steps to solve it.

This is you writing down a detailed process of the methods to try out. Afterward, carry out your plan and write the code.

Remember the human brain is limited in capacity and there is so much that the human brain can remember. Writing it down secures that path for another day.

“A computer is like a violin. You can imagine a novice trying first a phonograph and then a violin. The latter, he says, sounds terrible. That is the argument we have heard from our humanists and most of our computer scientists. Computer programs are good, they say, for particular purposes, but they aren't flexible. Neither is a violin, or a typewriter until you learn how to use it.”
― Marvin Minsky.

This quote by Marvin Minsky is legit. Programming is rocket science when you have not learned how to go about it. It's only the novice that will say programming is not helpful, or flexible.

Rather than trying to pick and drop ships, LEARN. What you term as extremely difficult today will not remain that way for long if you make the necessary investments to know more.

As a programmer, there are stages to cross. You may be an entry-level programmer, don't drop the codes because you feel it's too difficult. Stay with it and give yourself room to make mistakes and learn from them.

“One of the main causes of the fall of the Roman Empire was that–lacking zero–they had no way to indicate successful termination of their C programs.”
— Robert Firth.

C is commonly used as a programming language to implement algorithms in embedded systems.

Programming language is very important and software errors can be costly. For instance, in 2012, Knight group lost $440 million in just 30 minutes due to a software error that wiped 75% of the value of its capital in the market. This investment in the new trading software turned out to be a nightmare.

These incidents are lessons to learn from and mistakes to prevent from happening again.

“It's not a bug; it's an undocumented feature.”
― Anonymous.

A bug is a failure, error, or fault in a computer program that brings an unexpected result or causes an unintended behavior.

When these “errors” occur according to users, it may not be an error but a case where the result intended is not what is gotten. Some would say every problem has a prospect and in every question lies the answer. It may not work the way you want it to.

These undocumented features are considered beneficial in the end.

“First learn computer science and all the theory. Next, develop a programming style. Then forget all that and just hack.”
– George Carrette.

Your entry-level years may be the hardest. It involved trying to find your way around, avoiding bugs, following the footsteps of those who are getting it well, and similar efforts.

Succeeding as a programmer is not by following a straight path and all laid down rules.

A great programmer learns all the rules and basics to have a more grounded understanding. Then they use all they have learned to make their own style, and go on to hack.

One mistake newbies make is trying to skip the process for the result. This will only complicate things and probably help you fall face flat on the ground.

“I've finally learned what ‘upward compatible' means.  It means we get to keep all our old mistakes.”
-(Dennie van Tassel)

An upward compatible program is a program that runs on devices it was designed for and those it was not made for. An example is an Intel microprocessor working on a Pentium.

This means your program can be run on newer versions or models. Not only do you get to keep the mistakes but the great features too. Mistakes are fixable and give room to learn from them.

“The only way to learn a new programming language is by writing programs in it.”
— Dennis Ritchie.

Writing a programming language is first a matter of working with the fundamentals. After learning the fundamentals, expand on the fundamentals you have learned through constant practice.

As you practice you get more acquainted with it and in more exciting terms, you get better.

The way to learn is by practicing whether it seems like a hard code to crack or not. There are lots of sites to help with that like codewars.com.

“PHP is a minor evil perpetrated and created by incompetent amateurs, whereas Perl is a great and insidious evil perpetrated by skilled but perverted professionals.”
— Jon Ribbens

PHP is an easy-to-access programming language. It's majorly used to create websites and does not need expertise to be operated.

It's also the programming language commonly used by newbies or students in high school learning tech.

This can be traced to be the reason why some level of incompetence can be noticed. While Perl on the other hand does not have solid object-oriented programming and slower scripting for a lot of tasks.

The programming profession needs competent developers and software engineers who would put the user first and not money or fame. That's what has been largely missed in the industry, the passion and dedication to the profession.

The next software you make should be a means of channeling your love to problem-solving.

“Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is winning.”
― Rick Cook.

As you make a mental list of all that could go wrong or the unexpected, you might want to add user interpretation to it.

You can never anticipate how a user reacts to your features after all they do not have the advanced knowledge of the inner workings of the software as you do.

This is why you need to be sensitive to your users. They may be clueless about the way to run the program.

An example is Windows 95 the start menu was positioned where the turn-off option should be. This led to some switching off their systems in the wrong way and leading to errors in the system.

Give yourself a break, no matter how hard you try, some just won't understand the innovation.

“Complexity kills.  It sucks the life out of developers, it makes products difficult to plan, build and test, it introduces security challenges, and it causes end-user and administrator frustration.”
— Ray Ozzie.

This is especially true in the tech world today. There is scarcely any user that will appreciate complex software or systems even if it is a genius idea.

How will they know how brilliant it is, if they can't even use it or understand it? Which is why simplicity is in popular demand.

Writing long, unstructured, and complex codes may become spaghetti. Causing inconsistencies and failures as well. From the developer, down to the user, simplification is key.

“There are only two kinds of programming languages: those people always bitch about and those nobody uses.”
— Bjarne Stroustrup.

This notable programmer is the inventor and developer of the C++ programming language. This quote is obviously in correlation to the complaints that trailed the use of the program.

If the program, OS, or language is complained about, then that means it has users. Some would only pay attention to the downside but look on the bright side.

There are tons of systems, programs, and features out there that no one knows, uses, or even talks about.

Creative Programming Quotes

“Any fool can write code that a computer can understand. Good programmers write code that humans can understand.”
– Martin Fowler.

Writing codes with humans in mind will save you a lot of trouble and stress while giving you the best results. Writing good codes will come with fewer bugs and will be easy to operate for your users.

Your application software will also be productive because developers can easily optimize it and deal with errors. This is the theme of programming, people.

It is creating a platform where humans can reach tech to support them. It should be understandable, readable, and approachable.

If your user, types order lunch and the search request comes up with codes on the best place littered all over the screen, you will be correct in the information given but what was gotten will be unreadable and leave room to be termed as stupid or an error.

“Programming isn't about what you know; it's about what you can figure out.”
– Chris Pine.

Although programming is a science of putting together what you know and have learned, it goes beyond the confines of the old.

A cool feature of programming is creativity and room for innovation. It's just like a pandora's box, the deeper you go the more surprises you get. This makes it a fun and exciting profession.

“Considering the current sad state of our computer programs, software development is clearly still a black art, and cannot yet be called an engineering discipline.”
— Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton's quote was about the flexibility of computer programming. Unlike other disciplines with a laid down structure, programming is still not yet distinct. Some make use of it basically to gain money or rip others off.

Software development has had its fair share of bad days and terrible outputs which is why some are still unsure of it as a discipline but it is. Software development is under software engineering and although it's still facing these challenges, the prospects of what it could be stand.

“Walking on water and developing software from a specification are easy if both are frozen.”
― Edward V. Berard.

Software runs a whole lot of our lives today through our phones, the subway, aircraft, and a long endless list. Building software is relatively difficult and so is writing code for newbies.

Managing a software development team is not easy. You have to be aware of the possible difficulties that can occur.

Some grave difficulty in software development is making software that is different from what the clients want, even if it works fine, the clients cannot just ignore the difference from specifications.

Another difficulty is the clients not knowing what they want and the underperformance of the Software developer.

“That's the thing about people who think they hate computers. What they really hate is lousy programmers.”
― Larry Niven.

In recent years, the love and adoption of computers keeps growing. Who wouldn't love the move with the ease it brings? It only gets tricky when the programmers make it that way.

Lousy programs are those that are too difficult to understand or too terrible to use. Whichever way you want to look at it, the effort and result the programmer gives will tell a lot about how the programmer reacts to computers or technology as a whole.

“Some of the best programming is done on paper. Putting it into the computer is just a minor detail.”
― Max Kanat-Alexander.

Appreciate the groundwork. There is absolutely no rush whatsoever to roll out your software or bring out the next big thing. As a programmer, your best efforts and what you can term as a breakthrough or success are what you have as the manuscript. Putting it into the computer is a lot less tedious and brain-tasking.

Another concept of this quote is that you should do the groundwork on paper first. Have a solid plan and actionable steps first.

A great plan is halfway through becoming a great success. Planning also reduces the risk of forgetting the ideas that make up the full component.

“The only people who have anything to fear from free software are those whose products are worth even less.”
— David Emery

Big corporations usually make use of encrypted or paid software which is why they worry less over threats from exposure to the public.

Data privacy and protection are vital. No business owner or individual wants personal or confidential information leaked.

“Controlling complexity is the essence of computer programming.”
– Brian Kernighan.

Humans lived as basically as possible. No technology, phones, electricity, or the like. Now we have tech which is a means to better our lives with methods and techniques that are not easily understood by the normal man.

A great programmer takes complex details to make simple and easy-to-use features.

Controlling these complexities also had a lot to do with putting structure into your work.


Drawing the curtains, and getting paid for doing what you love is beautiful and much more beautiful when you have a healthy balance between work and rest.

Be the change you want to see in the world. If you are among those who believe that the programming system right now is unstructured and full of amateurs, put in the effort to see it change. It all starts with you.

Your next invention could be the turnaround the world awaits which is why every task deserves focus.

Even while resting, you are not wasting your time. It is for the greater good. Do not give up on your dreams of becoming a great developer or programmer because of how far success looks.

The greatest stories are from some of the greatest challenges. You are well on your way to success.

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Martin Luenendonk

Editor at FounderJar

Martin loves entrepreneurship and has helped dozens of entrepreneurs by validating the business idea, finding scalable customer acquisition channels, and building a data-driven organization. During his time working in investment banking, tech startups, and industry-leading companies he gained extensive knowledge in using different software tools to optimize business processes.

This insights and his love for researching SaaS products enables him to provide in-depth, fact-based software reviews to enable software buyers make better decisions.