I got a grip on Sunday, or more to the point I was the grip. I spent the better part of the afternoon and evening pushing what is technically a giant skateboard back and forth along a track. My brother David, the ‘independent film director’ was working on his latest project and I was the volunteer help. I made sure to point out that this was a union job and so I took as many breaks as possible and ate from the kraft-table whenever I could. Of course, the kraft-table was my own brown-bag dinner. It felt good to be a manual laborer for a while, even if it was only a modicum of exertion on my part. There were a lot of takes, over and over again. It is hard to see how all these ‘shots’ are going to be stitched together into the final product, but they will be and it will all make sense when it does.
That’s kind of like software. There’s all these little pieces that go together to make the final product. Its easy to get lost in the immensity of the work, especially if your own piece is not a core feature. Sometimes you just have to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Imagine it playing up on the big screen, the story of your customer using your product and how they make use of all the separate features. Is it a love story? A mystery? A tragedy? Sometimes you just have to put yourself into the role of the audience, and use your own product to do something real. Its easy to forget about how it all works together, when all you do all day is focus on just your one thing. Your write the code, debug the code and if you are especially prudent you build DRT’s to test over your features, but how often do you ever use the whole product?
There have been times in the past when on a lark I chose to building something using our own tools and frameworks. I force myself to learn the parts so I can write the lines. I usually end up pounding my head into a wall over some silly behavior or quirk or an API that just doesn’t seem to work the way I thought it should, or I just can’t figure out what I need to do from the documentation. Its usually at this point when I realize the film is a comedy, and I slip into deranged maniacal laughter.
But I digress