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Dev Jokes Demystified

Like any industry, web development has its inside jokes. When you’re first starting out, it can feel alienating when the punchline sails over your head. On the flip side, figuring out why the joke is funny — in most cases, by gaining an understanding of the common assumption on which it relies — can actually help you learn more about coding. Below, I’ll shed some light on the most common dev jokes you’ll encounter by explaining the underlying assumptions they’re based on.

A murderer holding a bloody knife is searching for his victim, who is hiding. He can't find him, thinks for a second, then says I program in HTML, who which the victim can't help but respond HTML is not a programming language

HTML is not a programming language. For a language to be considered a programming language, it has to run a program — that is, it has to be dynamic and make something happen. HTML is static: what you see is what you get. HTML is also typically the first type of code newbie programmers are exposed to because it’s the most basic, so if you’re proud of your knowledge/skill with HTML, you must be a newbie.


The image is titled Happy Hour and the caption reads Three programmers walk into a bar... Three men are walking up to a bar where a bar tender is cleaning a glass. The one in front holds up two fingers and his speech bubble says Three beers please


Arrays begin at 0. Arrays are used in programming languages (such as JavaScript and PHP) as a way to store multiple values in a single variable. For example, you may have a variable called “colors” that looks like this: var colors = [red, blue, green]. Instead of counting from 1 the way we normally count objects in the world, we count arrays from 0. So if we were selecting red above, we would use 0 instead of 1, because red is technically the 0th value, and blue is the 1st, and green is the 2nd.


Four boxes labeled young, adult, old, and programmer. Each box has an image of a person and three bars indicating time, money, and energy. The young person has time and energy but no money, the adult has money and energy but no time, and the old person has time and money but no energy. The programmer has no time, money, energy, friends, or reason to live.


Programmers don’t sleep and have no lives. This one is pretty self-explanatory. Because programmers can work from pretty much anywhere pretty much any time, they often do.


A cartoon in four panels featuring a ghost and a person. In three of the panels the ghost says Boo and the person does not react. In the last panel, the ghost says sudo boo and the person screams.


Sudo. Sudo stands for Super User Do, and it’s used in the command line/terminal as a way to run a program or command with the permission of another user. Typically, that would be the Super User, with the highest level of security permissions. You know when your mom says your full name and then orders you to do something? It’s like that.


The heading says What they're afraid of and shows a vampire cringing away from the sun, Superman cringing away from Kryptonite, and a developer cringing away from an IDE with a light theme.


Devs love dark themes. The most basic reason developers appreciate a good dark theme is because it’s easier on the eyes. Especially when you stare at a computer all day every day, it’s important to give your eyes relief any way you can. Some devs also claim that the darker themes help them focus. For me personally, dark themes help to put me in that coding mindset. When I’m writing copy, I’m typically using Word or Google Docs – that is, a white background with dark type. When I’m coding, the dark theme is a visual signal to my brain that it’s time to switch gears.


The image shows the Infinity Gauntlet on the left with the caption Client Expectations. On the right is a yellow rubber glove with colored plastic gems glued on, with the caption Client Budget


Clients are unreasonable. This goes hand-in-hand with every Tom, Dick, and Harry has an idea for an app. Non-technical people don’t always have a realistic idea of what technical projects entail, and can even devalue a programmer’s work by making assumptions about the ease/simplicity of a project. This can come in the form of a website client asking a developer to make a “simple change” that requires hours or days of effort, or a would-be entrepreneur posting a job ad seeking a developer to build a social media platform for free based on the promise they’ll be paid when the app gains popularity (no really, check your local Craigslist – you’ll find a few).


Two columns with text on the let and a corresponding graphic on the right. Just one more episode with Netflix, Just one more page with a book, Just one more piece with a chocolate bar, and Just one more library with the JS logo.


JS Frameworks reproduce like bunny rabbits. There are a LOT of JavaScript frameworks, and it seems like every time you turn around, there’s another one gaining popularity. You’ve got jQuery, Angular, Vue, Node, React… just let this Wikipedia article blow your mind. P.S. If you hear the term “vanilla JS”, it just means regular old JS, no framework.

Still mystified by a developer joke, or have a favorite developer joke? Comment away!

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