Saturday, January 17, 2009

Choosing a Project Repository

From that mythical reader out there who is actually following all my posts up to now I can hear the question - 'Are you nuts? You claim you are going to write a program in Python, and before you learn any you're worrying about where to host the project? Delusions of grandeur or what!'

Before you completely go over to my wife's side (who is quite sure I am nuts) let me explain.

The last time I tried anything like this at all, it had two problems. Since it was a sideline hobby, it was done in fits and starts, when I had the time. As a result I was always trying to figure out where I left off, what to do next, what was already done, etc etc etc. It wasted a lot of time I didn't have just trying to keep it all straight. Once it was finally completed (well, once I quit adding features anyway) it ran fine for years, but when I wanted out from under maintaining it, there was no one around who could pick up the pieces from my scattered pile of stuff and keep it running. The new maintainer ended up re-writing it all his way and throwing out all my work. I don't begrudge that - I wasn't doing it anymore and he can't support something he doesn't grok, but it hurt none the less to have all that effort pitched.

Since those who can't understand the past are condemned to repeat it, what can I learn from this?

One - you don't write software, you build solutions. Yeah, I know, sounds like an Apple ad or something, but here's the theory. Start with a clear vision, create a solid list of what the thing is supposed to do, then write the code to do it. Document, then execute, not the other way around. I can think of lots of projects I wish did things this way.... I used to have a friend in high school that was fond of saying 'Plan the work, then work the plan' Maybe I've finally started to listen :-)

Two - This project has zero resources (see rule one) and like the last one is going to be done piecemeal at whatever computer I happen to be sitting in front of when I get 10 minutes to think about it. An internet based, distributed setup is the easiest way to keep this on track and organized. I don't have time to worry about infrastructure any more than required, I want to work on the product. There's no privacy concerns here - quite the opposite, so keeping it local doesn't make any sense.

All right, now that I've blathered on this much, it's getting to be too long a post to discuss who I actually picked. I'll do that as a separate entry.

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