After dipping toes back into the source code that ruled my life for much of last summer, I appear to be largely unscathed. This is worthy of celebration – or at least, the celebration that might be conjured with a glass of left-over red wine while sitting in the junk room at home.
It’s difficult to explain software development to people. Imagine writing a novel, and then returning to the novel in six months to change the wording of a few paragraphs here and there, such that they don’t cause any of the surrounding story to become broken. Now imagine the story changes are being dictated by a paying customer, and to a deadline agreed before you really understood how those changes might impact the existing text.
Just for fun, now imagine that one grammar, punctuation, or plot misjudgment will cause the entire text to vanish for a random selection of readers at any point in the story – but not always, and they never tell you where or when it started happening – just that it is happening.
Just to complete the picture, before you start writing the story, a salesperson asks how long it might take to write, agrees the story with the customer, and then informs you that only half the timescale is available – but they still want the entire story. Your project manager then sends you a plan telling you exactly how long it’s going to take you to write the story they have never seen or heard about.
It’s not all bad. Sometimes people buy cookies.