The cost of a line of code

As you can see from my previous article about this subject, one developer can produce roughly 563 lines of code per month. In Cyprus a software developer will cost you on average €40,000 per year to hire. If you break the numbers down, this implies that each line of code you have in your organisation had a cost of €6. Basically, one line of code will cost you €6 on average in Cyprus, ignoring the fact that developers do other things than creating code of course.

In Norway, my native country, you can easily double the above cost, resulting in some roughly €12 per line of code. While in London the cost is as much as 15-20 EUROs per line of code. In extremely high cost places, such as the Silicon Valley, each line of code might cost you as much as 30 EUROs.

In my years as a software developers, I have seen a lot of projects. All of them have one characteristic they share, which is that they contains thousands of lines of code. Sometimes even hundreds of thousands and millions of lines of code. No wonder that independent studies have found that the size of the software development market to be somewhere between 322 billion dollars to 864 dollars in size annually – Depending upon how you measure it. Which of course again employs some roughly 26 million software developers world wide.

However, this is a historic anomaly. In the year of 1850 I betcha the market for breeding horses saw similar traits, as in being humongously large in relative size, resulting in that some horse breeders were filthy rich. Then came the trains initially, and later the automobile, and the market for breeding horses fell dramatically. It’s simply a consequence of automation. Today breeding horses is probably only for those with special interests. 170 years ago, it was the backbone of the economy and our society.

Similar changes have been seen over and over again throughout history. For instance, 1,100 years BC, Cyprus, my country of residence, was a super-nation due to its production of copper. Copper when combined with tin was the equivalent of gold some 3,000 years ago, and Cyprus was rich in copper. Then some smart guy invented the process required to create iron, and both tin and copper became meaningless historical artefacts, of no more interest than that of horse breeding today.

50 years from now, we will laugh at the way we created software today, simply because it’s an extremely manual job, and the products we create often fails due to the human factor. According to Gartner only 25% of all software development projects succeeds. 50% of software projects are challenged, in such a regard that they don’t deliver on time, or deliver inferior products according to their specifications – While 25% of them are never even finished, and simply completely discarded a couple of years after having been initiated. Hence, when some smart guy comes along and realise we can automate the creation of software, the world as we know is destined to change, and new methodologies for creating software will be born.

Hint, that guy is already here … 😉

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