At least, that’s my opinion. They’re both ways of recording and communicating ideas, and they’re both best when they’re clear and brief and unambiguous. I do believe that similar skills go into each. But they’re for different audiences and those different audiences have different natures. So maybe that’s why we think of programming and writing as being so different, and we say that someone who’s good at one isn’t necessarily good at the other. But I feel that if you genuinely are good at the one then you would be good at the other if you tried it and gave it as much time and energy.

The audience of source code is a compiler (sure, it’s also you when you have to re-read your own code in a month’s time, but that’s secondary). The audience of the written word is people.

A compiler always knows when it has misunderstood you. People don’t always know when they’ve misunderstood you. But in either case the fault lies primarily with the communicator. Still, it’s durned convenient to always know when you’ve been misunderstood. Imagine the disasters that would have averted in history if people gave compiler errors and warnings.

When a compiler knows it's misunderstood you, it will tell you so. When a person knows they've misunderstood you, they won’t always tell you. But they should. Perhaps they feel it’d be impolite to do so; perhaps they’re in a hurry; perhaps they don’t think it matters; perhaps they think it’ll become clearer over time. Perhaps.

So there you go. If from time to time you think your compiler is a PITA, just try writing for people! :P

-Steve