A way of life and thought

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By XU WEI

Pro­gram­ming is a way of liv­ing and think­ing, ac­cord­ing to Zhang Danli, a 32-year-old soft­ware en­gi­neer in Bei­jing.

Zhang, who works for Mtime, a movie por­tal, said she has felt pas­sion about the sub­ject since she was in­tro­duced to it in col­lege. The sub­ject fas­ci­nated her so much that she made the dif­fi­cult tran­si­tion from ma­jor­ing in ge­o­graphic in­for­ma­tion sciences to soft­ware en­gi­neer­ing.

“I was sim­ply in­ter­ested in com­puter science, and the op­por­tu­nity to use com­put­ers at­tracted me,” she said.

Af­ter grad­u­a­tion, she found a job at a web-map­ping, nav­i­ga­tion and lo­ca­tion-based ser­vices provider where she was able to learn more.

The rise of mo­bile in­ter­net pre­sented another learn­ing op­por­tu­nity and another ma­jor chal­lenge. “It was a to­tally dif­fer­ent pro­gram­ming lan­guage, so I had to start all over again to learn it,” she said.

She re­called hav­ing to get up at about 3 am ev­ery day for more than six months to learn mo­bile-ap­pli­ca­tion cod­ing.

“If I want to keep up with the lat­est in­dus­try devel­op­ments, I have to learn about cod­ing for mo­bile ap­pli­ca­tions,” she said.

“You can fail all the time. The an­guish can go on and on and on .

I was sim­ply in­ter­ested in com­puter science, and the op­por­tu­nity to use com­put­ers at­tracted me.” Zhang Danli, fe­male soft­ware en­gi­neer in Bei­jing

— and then, out of the blue, you dis­cover a so­lu­tion. That joy can over­ride all of the past gloom,” she added, de­scrib­ing her work as an al­go­rithm de­signer.

Zhang has also dis­cov­ered that her job in­creas­ingly shapes the way she thinks.

“The other day, my boyfriend asked me to buy some or­anges at the su­per­mar­ket. I took it as a di­rect or­der and went to fetch them. The or­anges were sold out, so I sim­ply came back home,” she said, with a gri­mace at the painful re­al­iza­tion that she could have bought other fruits.

“But that is the pro­gram­mers’ way: Think straight­for­wardly. I was think­ing in strictly tech­ni­cal terms, which is ‘if X then Z’,” she said.


Zhang Danli (right), a 32-year-old fe­male soft­ware en­gi­neer, works with a col­league at the of­fices of Mtime, an on­line movie por­tal in Bei­jing.

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