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Developer Diaries

Maintaining Code

Dennis Himes

Employer: Computer Sciences Corporation

Job: Project Maintenance and Development

DDJ: Where do you work?

DH: I work for Computer Sciences Corporation on the UTC (United Technologies) account, specifically for the UTC divisions of Pratt & Whitney and Hamilton Sundstrand. I divide my time between two different offices, depending on which project I'm working on, but both offices are in East Hartford, Connecticut.

DDJ: What's your job there?

DH: One project is maintenance of the PWLook app, which is basically a graphical interface to the BOM (bill of materials) database for Pratt & Whitney's jet engines. The other is developing and maintaining engineering add-ons to the Unigraphics CAD system. Most of my career has been working as a developer for CAD systems, mainly for Gerber Systems Technologies and for Cadkey.

I work mostly in C/C++, but also maintain a significant body of Fortran code, and occasionally find myself coding in Perl, Java, or obscure proprietary languages such as UG's Grip or Patran's PCL.

DDJ: What do you like about your job?

DH: I like the UG add-on projects best, because they involve development of new features, and sometimes whole new apps. I really enjoy designing and implementing applications from scratch. My favorite project of my whole career was when I designed and wrote a surface-modeling app for Packaged Communications Technologies in the late '80s.

DDJ: What do you find challenging about your job?

DH: Maintaining decades old Fortran code can be a pain. If I know I'm going to spend a lot of time making changes to a Fortran function, I'll often just rewrite it in C first. It saves time in the long run.

DDJ: What have you found that makes your job easier?

DH: It's a big help that my immediate bosses trust me to know what I'm doing. If I'm maintaining some code and I realize that for some reason (usually changed requirements) it would be more efficient to throw out huge chunks of it and rewrite it, I can do that without any hassle.

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