As many of you have surmised, one of the tangential as-the-world-turns subplots of More than a living is following the development of a tool we’re building called Kumquat. As such, we’ve tried to be as open and honest about not only its development, but the mistakes we’ve made along the way.
A few months back, we got really excited. Super excited. Ridiculously excited. Really super ridiculously… Well, you get the picture.
We got excited because, functionally, the tool was just about there. All of the little bits and parts seemed to be working. I had just sketched a UI that would work for the first iteration of the product. All that remained was creating the CSS that would allow the application to look like the sketch.
Now, I’m generally one of those people who is lucky enough to know what I don’t know. And because of that, I try to leave work to the experts.
I didn’t try to build the tool with my coding knowledge, because I knew an expert would provide more value.
I went the same route with the CSS. Hire an expert.
And, at first, it seemed that everything was going along just swimmingly.
But, then, things started to get a bit more hinky. The consistency concerns were almost corrected. The usability issues were sort of addressed. The beauty of the interface was almost there.
But we never got there.
So after a great deal of hand wringing, I made a difficult decision. I pulled the plug on the CSS developer. I knew it was time to quit.
So begins the next chapter of the saga.
“We’re 80 percent of the way there,” I said to myself, blissfully ignoring the good old 80-20 rule and its equally demonic converse. “I’m sure I can put in a few extra hours to drag us over the finish line. I mean, I’m just painting walls and hanging curtains at this point.”
Well, yes. In a sense.
But I was painting walls and hanging curtains in a carefully constructed house of cards.
Tweaking a major element resulted in a cascading avalanche that wreaked havoc throughout the site. Starting at the very most cascaded element resulted in a multitude of other elements shifting around the UI.
It wasn’t pretty. And it didn’t validate.
Pretty soon, I had put in half the time the original effort had taken. Then 100% of the original effort. Then 150%. And all the while we seemed to be losing ground. Not gaining it.
So I talked to some people. People I trust. I asked them to tell me what I already knew. And they did.
So, then I made the hardest decision I’ve had to make, yet.
I told myself to quit.
Not only that, but I decided that we needed to go back to the beginning with the presentation layer, all together. Scrap all the spaghetti code that now existed in a bunch of style sheets. Start fresh.
And, I’m a quitter.
So that is where we are, today.
It was a difficult decision. Even more difficult than holding off on the launch. I don’t like to quit. It has never sat well with me. And it was all the harder to make that decision with something that has had so much of my emotion and sweat in it.
But it was the right one.
So I quit.
We’re tearing the house down to its studs. Fresh paint, window treatments, and all. We’re going back to the bare bones application. And we’re going to start fresh.
Where does that put us in terms of delivery? Hard to say.
But you, gentle reader, will be one of the first to know. After I know.