Thursday, December 08, 2005

Yay! Something to do!

I knew there was a reason why I spent my waking hours over at Notes.Net LDD IBM Lotus developerWorks. Not that there have been huge numbers of waking hours for the last little while, but that situation has been improving lately. Improving slowly, but improving nonetheless. I can put in some time working now -- I just don't know what time of day I'll be able to do it quite yet.

Seems there's an entire application niche that's been missed out along the way, and it falls right into line with the rest of the suite I have been busy with. The difference is that this go-round, there's somebody waiting for the application. I'm up against a tight deadline and some fierce non-Notes competition, but I have written most of the component bits for the application already. I'd just never quite gotten around to realising that they could fit together that particular way. If I didn't have the bits and pieces lying around, there'd be no way to get this done in time, but given what I have, the time I've given myself is conservative enough that I can tolerate a day or two lost to my back. I just have to get on my case right away so I don't lose that cushion.

That's a big part of the problem I've been facing with this development thing. I'm technically competent (or so I keep telling myself), but my life experience has been almost entirely outside of the business sphere. So far, I have been an in-house guy -- somebody gives me a set of requirements, and I build what they ask for. Note I didn't say I build what they want.

There have been darned few instances where I've actually been able to contribute anything to the application's fundamental design. If the requirements are confused, I'll build a wonderfully well-written but unusable and completely inappropriate application. Exactly what the customer ordered. Well, you want to know something? Sometimes the customers don't really know what they want until they see it -- they want a Labrador Retriever, but in the process of describing fur, water, a general leg count and some kind of duck association, they actually spec a platypus. I've built quite a few platypi. There's not a lot in fixing and fuelling airplanes, teaching math or even shining shoes that would make a body intuit common business processes.

This new application, along with the rest of the suite, are unashamedly ripped-off from applications that exist elsewhere, adapted to Notes and Domino. With tricky bits and shiny things thrown in. I figure that if somebody's already paying for this stuff, and paying handsomely, it must be useful. And you know, I'm starting to feel a lot better about that now.