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Some ramblings on project management

I’ve spent the last week or so writing down all the ideas I have for Feep! Search, to get them out of my head. (I also wrote my own bug tracker to write them in, but that’s a topic for another time.) This has given me some thoughts on project management, which seemed like a good topic for a mildly interesting (if ironically somewhat disorganized) blog post.

The main reason I started writing all my ideas down in one place was so they’d stop distracting me: ideas come and go from my head, and whatever ones happen to be in there at the moment and occupying my interest are not necessarily the ones that would be best to be working on. I’m hoping that I can put whatever immediate thoughts I have down and my brain will stop thinking about them. However, I’ve found that, at least for the past week, instead of thinking of any particular idea, I’ve been thinking about all the ideas as I remember more and write them down. I’m sure I’ll run out eventually, but I’m at over 100 of them now and not really slowing down.

Anyway, the other reason was because I really should think about actually putting this service out on the Internet, rather than just fiddling around with it on my own personal server. Every time I think about this, though, I have some thing that feels important to do first; and since it’s a different thing every time, I never get around to actually finishing things off to a point where they’re suitable for a launch. (It’s perhaps appropriate that I’m suffering feeping creaturism.)

To that end, I’m making a list of everything that I think needs to get done for a basic version of Feep! to be ready, and realizing that quite a lot of the things are not as critical as I thought. (“I need more data sources so the results don’t seem as sparse! I need to implement that Quick Results feature! I need to fiddle with the ranking algorithm!”—actually, I don’t need this stuff to have something that works, and I can always add them later.) I’m still adjusting the exact list, but it pretty much boils down to:

  1. Clean up my working tree so I don’t have random experiments lying around to trip over.
  2. Make some shell scripts so I can rebuild the data easily, to avoid “how did I even get this data?” problems.
  3. Clean up the frontend code to remove some of the more obviously terrible bits (like the button that dumps a bunch of raw JSON when you click it).
  4. Add some quick niceties like simple help pages.
  5. Set up a production server and expose it to the Internet.

Looking at the details, it’s still a fairly long list (especially for something I’m only working at on sporadic weekends), but at least it’s more focused and has an end goal. I’m going to try to limit myself to only working on these things, so with a little bit of discipline Feep! might actually be available sooner rather than later.