The tally is now at fourteen months, and verging on fifteen.
I'm amazed anyone still reads this site; it has to be obvious that my design time and energy has been diverted elsewhere for that period of time. It used to bother me. I still apologize for it, but I've stopped giving estimates on when I might finally reach the finish line and be 'back.' I don't know. I stopped knowing about six months ago.
From my very first day at The Job, the understanding has been that I would 'fix' the website. The depth and complexity of that task did not become clear to me until a few months in, when I realized that I was dealing with many small scripts scattered all over the site, undocumented, uncommented.
I did the only thing I knew how to do: I buckled down. My first priority was assessment. What was wrong? Why was it wrong? I went from directory to directory, cataloguing, making notes, writing down questions for later. Through that assessment, it became clear that my first priority needed to be a calendar conversion; the homebrew calendar we were using at that time had no comments, no documentation, and had major flaws and limitations.
Fast-forward a couple of months. I moved forward - finally getting a new calendar system purchased, adding in the old data, then adding new data in tandem with the old calendar, writing functions to do the extra display work the homebrew calendar did, then finally turning off the old calendar. I breathed a little easier. The day I was finally able to do repeating events without keying in every instance of the event was a joyous day.
Since then, progress has been glacial. Most people can't even see it, and that's been the disheartening thing. I've been re-coding the scripts one at a time into a language I'm more familiar with, and more importantly documenting and commenting them as I go. I now understand about 90% of what the scripts on the website do. But the end goal? Transparency. End users shouldn't have seen a change, and neither should my co-workers.
Stage three was a content management system. I identified drupal as the way to go for this site about six months ago, and my coding work has been aimed toward making every page on the site insertable into drupal. I'm most of the way there. I have two major subsections of the site to go before everything's included, and we can consider moving the site live.
I've been solo on this project for fifteen months. It's left me feeling isolated both at work and at home. I am the only programmer at The Workplace, and it's been made clear to me that they love me, but I bewilder them. I'm a sausage-maker. What I do scares them, makes them sketch warding signs and think of alchemists -- but they want that end result.
I want to be done. I remember real life. I want to stop asking my co-workers for patience, to just show them what I've been working on, to find answers to these last two major problems... This project is very much my proving ground. If I do it to my satisfaction, there will be no doubts as to why I was hired.
I've held fast to something a co-worker found out for me. We've been looking at a similar website overhaul/revision, and through family contacts, we were able to find out details on what it took to achieve their website overhaul. It took ten full-time programmer-designers working on only that project for a year.
I am solo, am doing this in conjunction with print design, and have been at this for fourteen months.
So, Santa? Here's what I want for Christmas. I want the final two big questions solved. I want to fix the book clubs problem, and I want to find the answer to the training center problem. Give me those, and I can wrap up the rest. Let me hand them a beta before I get on the plane on December 27th.
I want my life back, but right now I think it is more important to myself (and a lesser degree my co-workers) that I prove myself. The people working with me in my department know it has taken endless cups of tea and headphone hours to get where I am now (both appearing in tandem are a sign of a major code problem) but I want so very much to show the rest of my co-workers that this is why I was hired, that this is what I'm capable of doing if I'm allowed time and space to do my job.
December 27th - is that so much to ask?