When you decide to stop writing code, what will be your next move? Architecting, mentoring/coaching, what else?

+7  A: 

What about retirement?

True, so true. [[ filler ]]
Alexander Pogrebnyak
Also a member of the anonymous coders ;-)
retirement: this is not an option :) Maybe you get bored of daily coding.
+3  A: 

Rook to Queen Bishop 4

+2  A: 

I'll never stop.

Even when I retire, or potentially write the next winzip & never have to code again, I'll still do it. It's the kind of skill which is multipurpose and will make any information based activity richer and more productive.

As far as switching to an architect role, if I ever moved to that type of role, I would hope I'd have the competence to continue coding to prove and come up with the best design patterns.

John MacIntyre
+12  A: 

Sorry, I never plan to stop writing code. It is my creative outlet. I did it before it was my income and I plan to do it long after.

I'm just built that way...

Dan McGrath
I'm wondering; are programmers the ultimate retirees, considering they'll always have a hobby in their later years?
Cecil Has a Name
depends if arthritis sets in ;)
+1  A: 

Telling people to write code.

Gavin Gilmour
You mean: telling _how_ to ...?
@Imsasu - In my experience Gavin's statement is more accurate ;)
+4  A: 

When I stop writing code one of two things will have happened...

  • I will have kicked the bucket and thus can't code any more
  • I will have changed the programming world to the point that we'll have no need to code any more.

I'm thinking the former is the most probable, but a little part of me will always dream that it's the latter... actually a big part of me. In fact, that's what I live for - alas, good as I like to think I am, I think I fall somewhat short of the genius required to make that happen.

I usually end up writing code to do tasks that have landed on my plate that I'd rather not do - like system maintenance [shudder]. Why do something manually when you can automate it? That just doesn't make sense. I can then just give the person who put it on my desk the application and they can do it themselves. Eventually people will stop coming to me for help to do their jobs and I'll be able to get mine done.

+9  A: 

I tried usability, but it's more volatile (in terms of job security), and I got laid off.

I did the management thing (actually, chairing an international professional conference for a couple of years). Been there, done that, T-shirt is kind of ragged now. But no interest in ever doing management again.

So here I am in my late 50's, coding away, and loving more than I have in a long time. (Part of that is .NET, which really made coding fun and productive in ways that I'd never experienced before.)

Coders Anonymous, indeed.

Cylon Cat
Thanks for sharing this, very interesting point of view.
Maybe this is the wrong place, but can you explain more about what you did in usability, and why it is more volatile?
Justin Ethier
Cylon Cat
+4  A: 

I've stopped writing code 3 times in my so-called career. Each time I started writing other code.

Steve De Caux
+1  A: 

Death! I stop coding when I'm dead. But I fear from a day which computers do our duties. :s

Mehdi Golchin
+5  A: 

I'm not planning to stop writing code anytime soon, but I had to contemplate this question in the past. It boils down to why you think about stopping coding.

If it's because you're hitting a glass ceiling in your current company and can't get any sort of useful promotion because you are "just a coder", you might want to look for a company that values your coding skills more than the place you currently work at.

If you want to stop because you want to get into management, good luck. Just make sure you're as good at managing people as you are at writing code. Too many programmers that have been promoted to management, aren't. Sorry.

If it is because of health reasons (the reason I had to stop for a little while about five years back), you need to figure out what else you are good at. I'd probably go into mentoring/training as that's something I personally enjoy and from the feedback I got from other people who were subjected to me trying to teach them, I'm not bad at it.

Nevertheless I'd rather combine coding with a bit of mentoring or team leading rather than giving it up all together; I enjoy it too much to give it up. It's taken me a while to realise that but if you've done something for about 20 years you tend to be reasonably good at it.

Timo Geusch
+3  A: 

I see several options for me:

  • I already started coaching/mentoring a bit as some juniors need a lot of help. It might be fun doing it full time, but I don't know if there is a market for that. Fast changing technologies are not much of a problem here, because there are these never changing rules, e.g. the basics, pointer arithmetic, pragamatism, etc.

  • Conducting trainings is similar but more formal. I've done it with small groups. Problem is that you really have to stay up with new stuff, but not too deep. Also note that good coders might not be good teachers.

  • I know that sooner or later 'they' will push me into management. I hate it but it happens all the time. Some senior developer tasks are team leader tasks already.

  • Since I started coding I was thinking about project management. I am still waiting for a nice/successful project to learn from. I want to experience at least one, so I would know how to start things (reading about it is not enough). Till now I worked in several projects, most of them messed up.

  • Business analytics might be an option, too.

Peter Kofler
+34  A: 

Well, when I stop coding, i usually start debugging :)

Shane MacLaughlin
+1 because I liked that one
Yeah, I really like this answer and voted it up too.
My code is perfect, start deploying right after coding!
if it compiles, ship it! hahaha
+1 and I give him an "lol", 'cause that's very funny and really true! :)
+1  A: 

My wish/desire is to write code as long as I can. If for some reason I cannot code, the
alternative I would wish to consider is technical documentation. That way I won't be
too far away from the technical work and I find it interesting to write about a non-trivial
topic in an understandable manner.

+1  A: 

Why stop writing code?

I've been doing it now for 27 years and still enjoy it immensely. Like others - I've done other things along the way in IT - management, CRM consulting, pre-sales consulting, etc, etc.

These days I enjoy wearing multiple hats - team lead, tech lead, architecture, requirements gathering, project management as well as programming, modeling and database admin. This means you are only coding 25% of the time, but it allows you to have more control over your job if you work directly with customers and management. Also allows you to go in any direction as the need or opportunity arises.

Information technology is innovating rapidly and provides a huge creative outlet. Why leave this behind? You won't get more opportunity for creative expression in painting, photography or sculpture. You won't get more opportunity to help a non-profit you care about by sweeping the floors than you will be building them a web site.

+2  A: 

If you can actually picture yourself hanging up your programming spurs at 65, then by all means, beat the rush and do it now. If you plan to die with one of Knuth's volumes in your hands, then the answer is simple. Stop writing what other people want you to write and start writing what you want to write. You will have the perfect "job". You will be getting "paid" (via your retirement planning) and yet get to program whatever your heart desires. My dream is to have that job now, and not have to wait until me.age > 65. I'll let you when I get it. :)

Ken Lange
+1  A: 

Definitely Architecture and mentoring.

+1  A: 

I don't plan to stop programming in the long term, but in the short term I might take a break from the IT world and go back into "study mode". Maybe trying to get a Bachelor's Degree in Classics or doing Philosophy-related studies.

I really appreciate the fact you can expand your knowledge endlessly in our business (learning new languages/frameworks, developping new graphics algorithms, etc) but a the end of the day I sometimes feel a lack of non-tech stuffs.

From the experience of a friend (graduated in philosophy and now web developer and enjoying it), I think philosophy permits to acquire intellectual abilities for life as a whole, beyond the skills you need for a particular job. After all it's a bit like some colleges that focus on teaching you concepts and paradigms (OOP, FP, first-order logic, graph and compilation theory, optimization, etc) rather than practical skills for the corporate world.

Stringer Bell
+2  A: 

Women, and lots of them.

+1  A: 

Professionally: when it ceases to be satisfiable means of employment.

Personally: death.

+3  A: 



Milan Ramaiya
+1  A: 

Travel. Translation (I'm learning Arabic, and enjoyed my time as a Spanish-English translator.) More travel. Teaching -- probably computer science. Write -- probably computer science. Get yet another master's degree.

Chip Uni
+1 for travel and teaching. -1 for school just for the sake of school
Errr... you gave me a -1 because I *enjoy* school for the sake of school? Wow, talk about a tough audience...
Chip Uni
+1  A: 

I will be be coder forever until I stop working.

+2  A: 

It's not so bad mountain biking, barbecuing, and reading a book. And if the mood strikes you, you can always cruise by Stack Overflow to see what the kids are doing.

john personna
+1  A: 

I don't think I will ever retire from development. I plan on being completely self employed by the end of 2010, so I will be coding what I want and I don't think that's going to change. I will still be writing code of some sort long after my retirement. To me coding is a creative process as much as someone paints or draws. I also very much hate writing cookie cutter code and really dislike working for companies where that is the majority of what they do.

+1  A: 

Buddhist Cremation

+1  A: 

For myself, I'm trying to figure out what kinds of roles are there within planning in IT. This is different from project management in that the specific projects are handled by someone else, but I'd be in the group creating a strategic vision and understanding the limits of an IT department in a company.

I'm not sure what names such a position has, but it is what I'd like to do when I move on from programming. When I was younger I wanted to be a consultant, the guy who gets called in for a problem, fixes it and moves on to the next issue. I still think that isn't a bad second option.

Management would be a distant third, as I kind of like the feeling of being that person that is a leaf on the org chart. It makes me feel like a bit of a wild card at times since I have no underlings.

JB King
+2  A: 

Exotic dancer, just like I was before I started programming. I am a guy, calm down.

*puts a dollar in your bra!*
Chip Uni
Law school is expensive!
+1  A: 

I usually watch some T.V., then go to sleep. When I wake up the next morning, I start writing code again. Unless it's the weekend or a holiday. Then, I spend time with my family.


Hopefully not writing Word documents.

Maybe "programming" Word documents? After all, there are HTML "programmers" out there.
Yes, I know, LaTeX rules :)