Today I sat with Moran after he “paged” me. He reviewed some code of one of our applications and he saw some things he thought he could make better. It was one of those classic “Hey! it should be a single service which every one of our applications will use!”. Step after step he made the required refactoring and some elegant API took shape. The improvement was in magnitude but I still thought that the API should be quite different before making it “public” and placing it in our infrastructure. But, and that’s a big but, the guys that develop the specific application needed the class and Moran was required to help in another project.
Should Moran take the opportunity to invest some time in this API? Should I help him through? We can talk about services, about providers, about extendability. We can play with code just to see how the API will look like. We can play with ideas, learn from each other, share our experience. We can share with others, we can send some quick “API tests” to get some feedbacks.
The process of developing the basics for our applications should be *long*. It should allow space for errors. The margins should be wide enough to let us experience, to learn from our mistakes, to discuss, to make Design Reviews, To Prototyping and throwing it all to the garbage 2 days later. It’s all OK.
But maybe this is not the right time for games. Maybe Moran should make it work somehow and carry on to the next project ? After all, the next project’s deadline is near(like always) and we need to join forces just to keep it up. Hey! we get paid to reach deadlines, to make it happen while keeping the quality at high level. The deadline is sacred. I truly believe that a good team will deliver on time even on the expense of features or well-known but low prioritized bugs.
On the one hand, I know that developing small to medium applications (0.5-2 human years) almost never allow you to invest the required amount of time in the basics. On the other hand, I also know that developing applications at work and infrastructures at home is not the answer for long terms. The process is short. No errors are allowed. There is almost no Design Reviews. Does it mean that the results of “home infrastructures” will be poor ? of course not, but the experience, the ability to break our requirements to programmer stories, to exchange ideas, to grow – is lost. The funniest part is that developing small application without a solid infrastructure turns into medium-large application. I guess it’s the egg-chicken paradox.
The best I can do is to tell the reality from my perspective. My reality is that there is never time(well, that depends on
the urgency and the magnitude of the application), and keeping with my expectations makes me perform the global thinking and implementation at home. This is the only time that I actually “have the time”. Investing my time in developing some required infrastructure can save my guys at work a significant amount of work. Still, putting the effort on developing infrastructure during work hours will come on the expense of developing user stories, mentoring, guiding, consulting, talking with our customers. I guess that I still don’t know my place. I’m a good developer, I would like to think, and coding some really interesting delegates-based infrastructure or some neat OOP solution are those treats I can’t live without. Still, leading projects, make sure everything ticks and the quality is high is a challenge I love to face in my every-day work; Above all – seeing my guys getting to the next step and helping them in this journey is the main reason I’m doing what I’m doing. I want to be the best I can be for my team and yet make an influence in the way we work via developing some solid infrastructures. My gut feeling is that I need to get better. I feel that I can and should be a lot better as a manager and a programmer but It is still very hard for me to decide how and where to invest my time.
This issue keeps me awake at nights “lately”(last 6 months or so).
Where do you put the line ? How do you decide to invest your time in programming on the expense of managing and vice versa ? When do you think it’ss appropriate to invest additional hour\day\month to something you believe in ? Do you have some rules of thumb ?