Andon du Jour: Beware of Impractical Advice

New Kids on the Block

My first ever commercial IT project was to tweak an existing application that sent out financial news by email. I remember really enjoying the challenge. I learned how to set up my local dev environment. I learned about the release process using foil packs of tea as release tokens (creativity was what made the days special). Most important of all, I learned how to write code better by looking at bad code.

As time passed, I was exposed to terms such as ‘maintenance’ (more sinisterly known as BAU – Business As Usual) vs ‘greenfield’. I was surrounded by developers who complained that BAU was gruntwork, that they wished they could do greenfield work instead.

‘Avoid maintenance work at all costs’

Many of those developers were given greenfield work, only to create an even larger legacy of bad code. I found that I appreciated a balance of maintenance and greenfield work because, together, they reminded me of the cost of over-engineered or badly designed solutions that I would have to help support.

The Longest Journey

Still, the conundrum of endless maintenance bugged me. Then one day it dawned upon me: Everything in life is BAU, be it buying milk, having breakfast on a Monday morning or attending yet-another-pointless meeting warped by political posturing. And, of course, keeping fit.

Welcome to your most important maintenance contract. It’s for life. Make it fun. Fill it with learning. Make it meaningful.

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