Andy McKay

Mar 25, 2008

Hit that project road block

Today i hit a road block on a project. Not the usual ones (clients, technologies, money), but a mental one. I spent 6 hours of my day staring at this project and felt like I came away understanding less. This has happened to me before on projects and I've realised it's hit me now.

How can you tell when this hits? It takes a bit of practice, this is isn't an average tough bug. I hit those and a simple change of scenery normally solve this problem. For me in the past this meant one of the following: a) a good bike ride, b) walk the dog, c) a glass of scotch (or two)... and bingo I'd run back to the computer and carry on.

Neither is this a bad day. I get those, oh boy do I get those at the moment. You can tell this isn't one of those because it's hitting back to back. Interestingly today, I thought I'd broken the back of this particular bug, only to find 8 more underneath and come away from the situation understanding less of one particular area than when I started.

It's not a matter of blaming the application, it could get its fair share of blame. It's too complicated, has spawned an entry on DailyWTF, has no documentation, very small unit test coverage, all the developers left, the project manager left and the client doesn't really know what they want. All par for the course there then. But in the end this is the sort of stuff we have to deal with.

Fortunately a while back all the belief that I was decent developer got beaten out of me, I at least now know what I do well. Tackling this sort of thing truly isn't my forte. That's fine, but I've still got to get over this hurdle and move on. So that means just keep plugging away or calling in help. I'll go for the latter and see if that get's me anywhere, it might or might not. But I think realising I'm now completely spinning wheels and not moving forward is the first challenge.

For the record, anyone who might be reading this blog - it's not your project, relax. And for the record, former colleagues who read this and go what about that project X years ago? Yep I hit it then (my count is this is the 3rd time in 8 years). Alright time for a glass of scotch, perhaps that will loosen up ability to cope with this application.