Starting over (long)?

Subject: Starting over (long)?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: John Posada <jposada01 -at- yahoo -dot- com>, TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 23 Jan 2006 12:21:34 -0500

John Posada reports: <<Last week, application management did a server refresh. This entailed deleting the dev environment and bringing everything from the production environment down to the dev environment. The good news is that the dev and prod environment are back in sync. The bad news is that since I was in my own personal sandbox, so to speak, all of my files went pfffttt. Gone. No more. Poof. and since it was a development environment, it wasn't backed up besides the codes being on VSS.>>

The guys who decided not to include your files in the backup should be taken out and publically flogged--particularly if they didn't warn you that your files weren't part of the backups. The purpose of backups is to prevent anyone from ever having to redo weeks of work, and these people are paid big bucks to ensure that they do this job well. (Yes, I got burned this way a long time ago: the idiot responsible for backups screwed up an intranet I'd been contributed to, tried to restore it, apparently couldn't find current backups, and restored everything from ancient backups.)

Possibly I misunderstood, but if you knew that your work wasn't being backed up and you were the one who decided that backups were optional, I recommend at least a good spanking <g>: Sorry to sound so critical, but this kind of thing can be career suicide if you're working to a tight deadline and fail to meet that deadline. Clients and employers quite rightly don't want to hear excuses for why there's no documentation for a project--they want your hide, whether or not you still have a use for it.

<<At first, I was really pissed, and that lasted a few hours. Then I started to recreate what I had, and here's the important part, USING MY OWN DOCUMENTATION TO DO THIS. Well...let me tell you...I thought my documentation was pretty much spot-on accurate...until now. It is amazing what I learned through doing this. Things like poor organizational issues, missing procedures, erroneous processes, all kinds of things.>>

Which only goes to show that in a development environment, someone has to take responsibility for a final reality check on the docs to confirm that they still match the evolving reality. Moreover, they always need revision after some time has passed because time provides the necessary distance from your work to let you examine it objectively and with a fresh perspective. As you noted, you learn about the product as you write, and I've often found that what seemed like a great idea early on suddenly seems less effective in light of this improved knowledge.

<<I do, however, now believe that everything you've ever written needs to be reviewed periodically, and not just immediately after it's been written. Give it a few months and then approach it with a fresh mind.>>

Every editor is amply familiar with this syndrome; most of us try to do our second pass at least a day after the first pass, and ideally longer if the schedule permits. Ditto for anyone who writes fiction.

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Geoff Hart ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca
(try geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com if you don't get a reply)
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Starting over (long): From: John Posada

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