Bill Farrar

Portfolio Site and Blog

Board: A Step Back For A Moment

April 02, 2012

In case it wasn’t obvious, I missed my goal date for the features I wanted — mainly multi-user logins, with the virtual tabletop working alongside that.  My date was keyed on when I needed the tools, which was Sunday.  Now, this wasn’t a disaster.

First, I had a backup plan - to use the original code I wrote and which worked well enough four weeks ago.  It’s always good to have a backup plan, because things happen — I got sick, and had a guest for a week, both of which ate into my development time.  This happens all the time; every job I’ve worked had some moment where the priorities of the business changed around the project, and the project had to change as a result.  Successful projects made the change; the ones that didn’t change weren’t successful.  I once had the business culture change enough that the project was no longer necessary, or at least 90% of it wasn’t.  Which meant it was costing the business to keep me employed working on it — so we transitioned the 10% to the approrpriate teams, and phased our project out of the workflow.  I consider that a success, because we did the right thing for the customer, even if I was looking for work at the end of it.

Secondly, the game wound up getting cancelled — which happens fairly often, but isn’t something you can plan.  I’ve had projects which were ‘saved’ by the customer just not having time to evaluate the code.  This certainly shifts the date out (and I had one ongoing project where my clients were so busy that they could only do one feature a month, no matter how big or small it was, so a slip like this could push everything out in increments of a month), but it’s something the customer understands.  Even if you have to shift a date out, making sure the customer understands and agrees keeps things successful.  No project plan lasts the course of a project, but it’s good to take a moment when things change and re-evaluate what’s going on.

And that’s what I’m taking some time to do today.  I’ve been using the YAML CSS project as the base of my design (this is different from the YAML markup language, which I may also use).   I noticed last week that I’d edited my templates down to where I wasn’t compliant with their license, and that they’d updated to a more flexible responsive layout.  I’d planned on dropping it after reading about more responsive flexible layouts, since it seemed to want to force me into two or three column layouts that didn’t feel natural.  As it is right now, doesn’t look that great because of the hacking I’ve put on it in the past four weeks.

This includes the user input section where some radio buttons seem odd, and there’s a bit of a mishmash of css around the whole thing.  I was working with that last week and just kind of threw my hands up — did I finish the user stuff so I could meet the deadline, or do I step back and fix the CSS now? I didn’t know the answer then, but today, after my deadline, it seems pretty clear that I need to fix my structure some, and get it ready for a decent design.

I’ll use the User pages — both the administrative and user-centric pages — as my test for the design before moving onto the boards themselves, with a hopefully cleaner css.  The virtual table really  needs a clean CSS design, as it depends on some positioning features, and anything that’s off or not quite right will make it harder to get it working.

So that’s the goals for the next couple of days.  I’ll have a post on Wednesday — all else going well — about how the whole login and signup process works, and then once that is done we’ll finally start talking about Games, Boards, and Tokens which the actual work of the site depends on.

Bill Farrar
Bill Farrar
Full stack developer with over 20 years in web technologies and over 30 years as a software engineer and designer. Senior systems analyst and team lead, spending time running projects and mentoring peers.