How much is one line of code worth?

Published on June 25, 2009

“I just need to have this simple feature implemented, which I know you can code in a (couple) of lines! So please charge me no more than $2, or 2 minutes of work.”

This must sound familiar to developers, in some way.

I was reading a story of what a carpenter said to his client in a blog post The Price of Experience and Expertise.

There is a man who has a squeak on his home staircase. Every day he comes home, his wife takes the opportunity to remind him that he said he would fix it. Running out of time, he hires a carpenter just to get it done and finally bring some quiet to his household.

The carpenter arrives, walks up then down the stairs, takes out his hammer, and quickly hammers in a nail to quiet the noise. He then hands his bill to the man who promptly looks at it and says “$60???, all you did was hammer in a nail! I could have done that myself.” Then as he looks closer, the bill says “hammer in a nail – $2, knowing where to put the nail – $58.

It is the same for programming. Typing the code - $2. Knowing where to type - $98 (: