PermaLink Wottapainintheass11/19/2007 01:57 PM
Seems like the code you spend the most time on ends up being the least appreciated.

I've been pushing for major improvements to the system I build at my day job. I know what's needed, know how it can be done and how it can be made stable and efficient. I tend to be stymied by nontechnical management who prefer to take a crawling approach that they probably think is "safer," since fewer changes are being made at a time. Most of you who've written major systems, though, will understand that sometimes it's easier and more effective (and "safer") to tear out great huge chunks of code all at once.


Because any major program, over time, develops crud. Dust and dirt down in the code that comes from patching and adjusting things over time, sort of the crud that accumulates in the rim of your phone while it's pressed against your head. Sure, you could take the phone apart and clean it carefully, but you're fairly likely to fuck it up while doing so, and thus go from a dirty but functional thing to one that doesn't do a damn.

That's where I am right now with this code. Some of it's been running for nine years without a break, and without a major update. Right now, what I want to do is tear the whole thing to pieces and replace it completely with code that really takes advantage of modern versions of Domino and modern browsers. The original was written on Domino 4.5 and written for crap like MSIE3. Instead, I'm being limited to trying to add new features to the existing code base, which tends to make it less stable and overcomplicated. Just today, adding a simple chunk of code managed to break two other major functions, where, if I'd been able to completely redo the system I could have written those functions -- themselves patches added on several years ago in a clunky way because that was the only way at the time -- into the fabric of the site and modularized them so they could do a lot more.

But no.

As a side note, if you need to read runtime values of Domino fields using Javascript, I strongly urge you to use getElementById() rather than the document.forms[n].Element.value sort of structure. All it takes is for you to plop in a new subform that contains or renders to an HTML form and it'll fuck up your document.forms[] array and drive you out of your mind. However, I did find a new quirk in Domino... sometimes it seems like Javascript simply refuses to correctly read the value of an element instantiated through getElementById(), and even though it produces no errors in the debugger, it also doesn't work.

  • Where you can, compute stuff through Domino.
  • Where you can't, use GetElementById.
  • Where you must, use the document.forms[] array.
  • If you have to do this, try to address forms by form name (all your forms do have names, right?) rather than by array number.
  • The best solution is still, build it right, don't build it expeditiously.

I am strongly tempted to just do my under-the-hood code rebuild on my own, and then just stuff it into the system using the same front-end look. And don't tell anyone. All they'll notice is that it's faster and more reliable. If I let anyone in on the plot, they'll bog the project down with eye-candy they think the users "need" but which the users invariably hate. I found that out again today, after one of the things "they" touted so heavily generated a metric assload of user complaints. And that was just the people who bothered to tell us.

I didn't want to do the fucking thing in the first place, BTW.

One day they'll listen.

Of course, I'll probably be long gone by then.
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