Coding 24hrs Straight, do you gain in time?

I mentioned on Friday/Saturday that I decided to roll-up my sleeves and help out the iTraveller team with some coding issues they had in WPF (mostly just binding stuff). It was an interesting night to be had, everyone was stressed emotions were high and low at times but overall they are were all determined to have a first release ready by Saturday 7am.

We then proceeded to stay-up all night and all the way through to 7am (I feel asleep for an hour at around 4am and was booted out for snoring) but was awake again around 5am. The developers were stuffed, exhausted and barely made the 7am deadline.

It's all to common in the programming world, where you have a deadline and are about to deliver but come to the realization that you're about 5-6hrs shy of meeting it. You could argue poor project management but if you cross over into this discussion you'd need to start looking at all the ingredients, specifications, resource capacity, skill sets within each resource and so on.

It's not a perfect answer and I've seen even the best project managed solutions hit this wall all to often, as it's usually the small stuff that trips you up. That and when you are using something for the first time? how does one gauge the length of time it takes to assemble? you base it off other benchmarks, languages or technology you've used in the past to interpret an answer of some kind.

Bottom line though folks, is that no matter what never work 24hrs straight as you lose time more then you gain.

  • Your body needs sleep, to ignore that will result in emotional tug of war with yourself and others around you.
  • You lose interest in the project rapidly due to the above.
  • You may gain 5+ hours of actual work time, but in reality you are probably working at below 50% of your potential and may introduce more bugs due to fatigue.
  • You loose that 5+ hours the next day, as usually everyone is on deck in the office, you're not and you at times become out of sync with one and all. You also feel like absolute crap the next day and feel like sleeping more so then normal (it's the tax you pay).
  • Your immune system can take a beating, as I type this I'm coughing up a lung and have a head cold, as I was enclosed within a small office with more people then usual and I'm sure our germs got to know each other very closely.
  • You usually find that all that hardwork and you ship on time, results in carefactor from the client. I've found this all to often, back when we worked 72hours back to back to ship Billabongs website(s) in the early days (when I worked for agencies). It was shipped, someone looked at it for a total of 5 mins and said "I'll look at it later this week, i'm to busy to go into detail on it just yet" - so heart breaking.

Overall though, the iTraveller team was given an impossible deadline, they've never used WPF in their lives and were able to ship something at 7am that left me quite amazed at the level of detail they had gone to (3D Carousel of Blogs with Meegos for example? wtf!)

I'm getting to old for 24hr code jams, as my body feels like crap but please, understand you don't gain, you actually lose from doing this.

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