The Entire Dev Team is Sick


I’m working on an app right now. I’ve been working on it since I escaped my gilded cage, modulo distractions – consulting, travel, talks, writing. It’s fun, working on my idea, and thankfully I met a great designer so it’s not going to be Developer Art. And it’s cool. I’ve had a working demo for a while which people have seemed to like, and now just refining the UX and some horrible bug (relating, I think, to filetypes) remain.

Of course that last 20% takes 80% of the time again. And I’d been making progress, knocking out all the small things, in between running around, but then I got 8 days to focus on it almost exclusively and discovered that past-Cate had left future-Cate, now present-Cate, a bunch of tedious and time-consuming things to do, and also that horrible file-type bug. And present-Cate understood what past-Cate had decided, but that was when being the entire dev team got a little lonely.

It had been really nice, making all the decisions, not having to do code-reviews, or spend time justifying decisions I’d made, because someone else would have made a different choice. I believe in code-review as a process, but so much tech-bro-male-dominance gets played out in them. Some people (men, I find) seem to view it as a making you jump through the hoop, where the hoop is “how I would have done it” and deviations must be justified. “Suggestions”, which seem a lot like orders, which I would resent much less if they worked most, or even half, of the time.

Naturally, it’s easier to live without code review on a platform I’m already pretty expert in, and I expect it will be harder when I move on to Android, where I haven’t already architected and led an app from first check in through to launch.

Really, there are two things I find hard about being the entire dev team.

Firstly, if I’m out for whatever reason – sick? The one day a week I force myself to take away from the computer? Meetings? A deadline for some other project? That’s it, nothing moves forward. It makes it easier to give up on progress that day, because it feels like it’s not going to move the needle anyway. On a team, if I took a day sick, I might still do code reviews for other people, or check in some little things, if I felt a bit better later in the day.

Secondly, when deciding between two alternatives, like the one where the mocks have arrived and that library component won’t do quite what it needs to and should be ripped out and replaced with a custom one, I’m the only person with the context. I think the decision is pretty clear, but I need to talk myself into it and convince myself that I haven’t missed anything. There’s no-one else with that context to have that conversation with. Thankfully a friend with some context, who was nice enough to listen and tell me I was right, but I missed sitting next to someone and being like, argh, you saw these same mocks and you code reviewed that code already and now it needs to change and yes.

I still have no-one to talk to about the filetype bug, but that’s OK. I’ll write more unit tests to understand it. And maybe start talking to myself. Or my plastic ducky.


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