The Joy of Software Development
At DeLorme I primarily work on those core internal elements which are common to all of our products and then more specifically on the GIS engine. Such labors are often in the deep darks of the application, far removed fom the lighted areas where the user dwells. Despite the mantra of the eXtreme Programming devotees, it is rarely possible to design engine-tier code for a footprint the size of a specific feature. Designs of that nature frequent merit the appelation: stovepipe. As an engine developer, I often try to take requirements from specific tasks and fit them into a bigger picture which accounts for future growth or enables refactoring of duplicate code. A design of that size rarely sees its full potential exercised, but when the planets are aligned just so the possibilities pour out their elegant potential.
Today was just such a day.
The GIS engine team was assigned the development a new user-visible feature which is in frequent demand by both internal and external customers. We took the long view and architected a whole new, extremely flexible system. It seemed unlikely that the capacity offered by this feature would ever be completely delivered. By chance this afternoon, a request came to me for a piece of functionality which had been heretofore impossible. Back at my office, after talking to another developer about the idea, I returned to my station to find a request from another developer about whether a related function could be built using this same engine. As spring is to a flower, this was to our architecture. It opened revealing stunning hues. An addtional, often requested, new feature was made possible. The over-engineering we conducted to support a future macro system had enabled an entirely unrelated feature to be built.
It is nearly impossible to describe the raw pleasure in those moments. The discovery given by conversation. It was as if we walked through a maze and turned the corner to find more than we had anticipated. Here is to hoping that we can deliver on the idea as easily as we can conceptualize it.
This entry was written while listening to Orange Catholic Bible by Double U from their album Absurd Fjord [iTunes].