One of my goals at work for the past month has teen driving efforts to improve our internal documentation for front-end developers. It would have been easier undoubtedly to just rant about it at meetings and talk about grandiose projects. I chose rather to do something about it in my own work.
Pull requests. I used to just put a descriptive title and leave the description empty, sometimes linking to the original issue. A call-to-action came from my coworker, who asked me for a brief summary of changes so that it’s easier for him to understand what he was about to review. So, I put in some screen shots of any UI/UX changes, a few lines about background, something about the context for the pull request, and finally a short list of the main changes. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve started also adding links to any relevant documentation I wrote, such as backend API endpoints or anything in our product wiki.
Internal documentation. We use a popular open-source system to house our internal front-end documentation. So, I’ve made it a part of my workflow to document any backend API endpoints in our system. That way, some developer won’t curse my name and the day I discovered programming when they have to maintain or debug my code.
How-tos and repo documentation. Taking my coworker’s request further, I expanded any developer documentation that lives in the repository. This is usually either how to get started or how to implement a new feature. The effort spent on this (and README.md in tow) will hopefully mean that other developers will find it easier to get going with the codebase.
I wrote the original version of this piece, last year on Medium. This is an expanded and less guarded take.
I didn’t want to study software engineering in college. I first wanted to study English literature and drama. That wasn’t an option at home. So, I looked at the other things I had dreamed about since childhood – architecture. I put together a portfolio and applied to Bartlett School of Architecture in London. They hid the rejection letter from me and told me no. So, I fought them and the first compromise was computer-aided product design. I just wanted some art in whatever I studied.
There was none of that. It was all math, physics, and science.
Over the last couple of weeks, I have been working on a project to make Kivra’s web app ready for other languages than Swedish. It’s been a great deal of manual work, going through the codebase and moving strings to our copy repository.
This involved a lot of cross-checking and checking that the strings are being used or not. After a little while of using find/replace in Atom, I realized that this was going to take a long time.
So, I put together a little gist. That gist turned into a simple repo that I whipped together.
After customizing the repo with some tooling and npm options, it seemed like a good idea to generalize this into a boilerplate that I can reuse for other support systems or for my own projects.
I watched this video of Seth Godin yesterday, talking about rules he lives by. One of them is to blog every day, not because you will garner millions of pageviews or loyal followers, but because that’s how you develop your voice. You blog because you blog, not because you are doing whatever it takes to bump your stats.
It echoes Neil Gaiman in his commencement speech Make Good Art. You make art because it’s what you have to do to exist, rather than a project for the sake of a project that needs to go online and be promoted and be noticed and be shared until you catch a break.
Both videos have cut through a lot of my recent vacillating about blogging and making art in general.
So, here I am. Writing just for today. And making art.
I’ll spare you the platitudes of how life has been so busy, or I’ve been through so many changes, or any of that. I haven’t written in a long time, here, on this blog. The only reason is that my relationship with writing is complicated, not in the way that Facebook has now appropriated, but in that it was a non-relationship. Complicated could point at how I carry writing on my arm, as a trophy wife, but at home I beat her to death by neglect.
I didn’t write that novel I announced with much fanfare on Medium and here. I have been preoccupied with discovering who I am. Yeah, not rediscovering, but discovering.
I’m working on not killing you anymore, honey.
There will be no promises or announcements, no lofty goals or projects. I hope that there will be a public reconciliation with this thing I love and discard so much, writing – the closest I’ve ever been to a real relationship.