After 18 months of waiting January 2009 finally arrived. Along with all the added personal mission statements, training ambitions and what not, this is also the month where the article written by Lars Matthiassen and me is getting published.

We got published in the International Journal of Business Information Systems with the article ‘Agility in a small firm: A sense-and-respond analysis‘. I’ll post the approved proposal when I dig it out of my mail box.

Buffer post

Firstly…I’m always a bit taken by how quickly time flies by. Its been roughly 9 months since my last post which puts my ‘become-famous-blogger’ plan in a somewhat ill perspective.

So before I hopefully pick up a faster pace (…) and start writing ‘serious’ posts, I’d better quickly recap my life from the time of my last post uptil now:

  • Still got my wonderful wife, and my son is growing up and becoming increasingly lovable.
  • Got a job-title change from ‘Pure Code Monkey’ to ‘Online Community Organizer’, which basically means that I’m responsible for my firms online community @ (well…it also includes some support responsibility…so it’s not extremely fancy fancy)
  • We bought a house…and are enjoying this new status and all the worries that follow in the wake.
  • I’ve started working with Betware’s platform which also makes me a web developer (Struts, J5EE and whatnot)…I suppose.

I’m still buying books by the truckload…so in some distant future I’m going to become an expert on the Lego Mindstorms NXT platform, a network security mastermind, Struts Wiz and Agile guru.

An elephant vs. the porcelain factory

Lately I’ve been working on modifying existing games for a new customer. Each game packs a couple of years of codebase history, one of them even has had multiple developers assigned since its birth.

Now, let me start by stating that I’ve never considered myself especially gifted when it concerns programming. I know my way around the fundamental concepts, and pack a decent analytical skill when it comes to design and architectural decisions. But these recent work tasks as really challenged me in almost all dimensions.

Getting to grips with the original mental model of an application is indeed much more complicated than understanding the problem domain itself (ahem…depending to some extent on the problem domain type…). Unfortunately there is very little documentation related to the games I have been working with. Most application knowledge exists within the head of the firm’s game grandmaster. Luckily he is very friendly and willing to help.

But as the title of this post states, it is easy to feel a bit like an elephant in a porcelain factory. Whenever you have to make a turn, your large behind knocks over something fragile and hard to recreate. So You learn to turn very carefully, and perhaps even get a little paranoid and do nothing but tiptoe around all day. When working within a fixed iteration with defined tasks and deadlines, a though choice have to be made. To continue building on top of existing code trying not to break anything, or to acquire the appropriate resources for rebuilding the program, knowing that it most like would not be backwards compatible and we would end up with parallel codebases for the same application (more or less). I guess that abstraction and modularization would cure some of our difficulties, but such rework would still require unavailable resources.

I guess communication is the golden key to success, once again.