Early developers and web development clients are often lost in the beauty of building a website. The people I have worked with and along side of are always bogged down by the visuals and ignore the more fundamentally important aspect: how the website functions. When a client sees a pretty landing page they equate that to completion and similarly, when a budding young developer first gets into their first website it is often with gross disregard of everything else that they begin to pound away at the visual aspect, often called skinning.It should go without saying that we all start out, at one time or another, trying to build a pretty site. Visually appealing content is always going to be more interesting than if its just static text that doesn’t move. Just as in the game industry, if you go back 20 years, games were simple and building them was not about having the most artists or writers so much as having a game that was fun, Mario, Zelda & Contra for instance. Now building a game that people call successful is more about trying to make it pretty and ignore the fun aspect all together, HL2, CS and Halo 3. The internet has evolved at a comparably difficult pace to keep up with, and with the invention of tools such as Macromedia Flash, and now Microsoft’s Silverlight the internet is becoming a new playground. Building a new website is seen, by amateurs, as a paradise of simple methods that transpose data and toss it out to the user at a whim.
Continue reading “Process over progress”
Have you ever been working on a project and lost your drive to continue? Do you find it to be difficult to get going again? You may have experienced what many developers do – Burnout appears to be as wide spread as the number of people who breathe that have also died. Developers often struggle their applications and eventually lead to complete failures. Paul Graham wrote an essay on the topic of keeping a program in ones mind. It doesn’t seem far fetched to think that an applications complexity is going to correlate to the amount of the application that you will be able to think about and how much of your steam and investment I involved in any project that you choose to undertake.
I started work on GneuManager long ago, nearly 2 years ago now, with a goal in mind of putting together a project management application that would allow me to keep track my progress and momentum that I had with any of my projects. I need it to work for game development differently than it does web development differently that it does console or any other applications that I work on. I also oversee things that have little to show like testing and meetings that I should still account for in my application. As you can already see, this is definitely not a simple project, and as such when I first began work it was quite specialized. It didn’t do much other than track my bugs and allow clients to log in and see progress.
Burnout occurs when developers take a bite out of something that is larger than they are able to actually consume. It runs a close parallel to what many of us understand to be bad already, the event of choking. Forgetting to chew or biting off too much of a hot dog can lead to the terrible gagging that we have all experienced. The reluctance to take another bite is something that we don’t all share.
My first bite for GneuManager was to build out the user system. I ran a close editorial summary of my progress with a series of essays that I will publish at a later time, highlighting my progress and sharing my thought process of the application as things grew. Unfortunately there were things that I didn’t understand well enough. I also lost my team and these two events lead to a loss of drive.
The past three days I have been in a haze of UScript. I have learned more in the last weekend about Unreal tournament than I know about my own game and squirrel, and that is a great thing. I spent a good 19 hours starting Friday night and going through to 11pm this evening, pausing only for food and a Red Dwarf marathon with my dad, and have coded out three Mutators for Unreal Tournament. They are all up on the site, ready to roll, working over the internet, configurable, and most of all… they are written by me.
Also of note – my wordpress video tags extension upload has finally been approved.
They are of course all on the software releases page. Go ahead and take a look.
I nearly forgot yesterday that Ruby has a train following it about. It has been growing in popularity over the last few years as it has become more and more well known as the language used behind a growing number of applications, such as campfire for instance. I have no complaints about it though, its actually a very useful language. My problem, as is often the case, falls on ignorance and the terrible practices of fearing languages.
When someone approaches me and asks me if I know Ruby on Rails I have to answer, quite politely the first time, no. I don’t know Ruby on Rails any more than I do QCodo, PHPCake or any other of the dozens of web frameworks. The attachment of “on Rails” to Ruby has really ruined, at least in my mind, the possible momentum that could be enjoyed by Ruby as has been enjoyed by other languages like, Perl or Python. The fact that these later languages names begin with the letter P should not lead anyone to believe that they are P-opular. All of the languages that I have experience with have their place in my heart and a place in my development practices. From my point of view, pinning “on Rails” onto Ruby weakens the message that many of us have already taken to learning.
Continue reading “Ruby, oh yea, its on Rails”
As developers we often forget that users put a lot of trust in us to do not just the most efficient and expedient thing to make sure their experience between landing on our site and finally purchasing those tanned buffalo leather swim shorts is quick and easy, but also to do the right thing with their information. We often fail to scrutinize data properly, adding weak points into our applications and possibly providing the information we have stored to a person with less naive motives. We are on the front lines of data security, although most of us only have a pail and a tooth brush and are not expecting any attacks or unscrupulous users to come our way.
Little do we know, our past is pock marked with horrible events of user security and we need to be prepared. Many of you may not realize how insecure the internet fundamentally is. Two and three factor authentication is now the norm, and VPN is now the only way to conduct any business with anyone on a network. There are worms, and SQL injection and many other forms of malicious entities out there. We cant possibly guard ourselves and sites from them all. The net is fundamentally a battleground; a battle between good and evil that will go on for eternity. Where one man stops and says … “I cannot be hacked!” … another picks up and tears them apart. The only thing we can really do is protect the information so that when we are hacked nothing of any value is lost.
Continue reading “Developer Responsibility”