Beta testing

My app has gone into beta testing with the team. Wooohooo! Yet, I must confess, I feel a little trepidation.

Beta testing is a curious term and comes from the concept of alpha (first round tests) and beta (second round tests). So my alpha testing was predominantly done by myself and a colleague who has been working closely with me on the overall project, she is not technical at all, which in alot of ways was a good thing. This beta testing is being done by people who have seen screenshots and short walkthroughs but never had the opportunity to use it for themselves.

Terminology, acronyms and buzz words. They litter our world, but make things easier to understand in some ways, by conceptualising things into a single word or phrase.

Take Software Engineering. From one who has spent a fair amount of my life writing bespokeĀ applicationsĀ  I disagree with this one, writing code is as much an art form as a type of engineering. There is beauty, elegance and logic in those lines of code. There are rules too, but they way something is crafted and carefully knitted together can be an artistic creation.

Marketing loves buzz words. “The cloud”. It is a fair description, but not a new concept. Hosting stuff on the interweb has been around for easily over a decade.

But back to my app. I still have a major piece of functionality left to implement. It needs to sync its local data with SharePoint. And time is passing quickly, launch is not that far away. Tick tock, tick tock!

Responses from the team have been encouraging – amazing, awesome and stunning are all terms that have been bandied around this week. That is, until it falls over in a big heap due to a bug. It has taken many months and countless long days to get to this point. And while it may be over 11,000 lines of code and growing, it is just a beginning. It provides a basis for building something better. Something revolutionary for the wider team.

Sometimes SharePoint smokes….

or sometimes I wish it would, in a nice little funeral pyre, dowsed in petrol! That I can light a cigarette from! Ok, I will forgo the cig.

Today has been just a tad frustrating. There are some requirements for my app to integrate with Microsoft SharePoint (also known as MOSS). I knew this would be needed when I started on the application, though I expected it to be necessary after version 1.0 was rolled out. Requirements change though and it looks like we need our own backup strategy to supplement the company one.

The challenge with SharePoint is there are many different ways of doing this, depending on what version you are working with, which development environment you have installed, and which SDK tools you have. Most appear mutually exclusive and the documentation is pretty awful, which is unusual for Microsoft. It reminds me of MS Site Server which I have programmed applications for before and I suspect that’s part of the problem here. It feels like an evolution of MSSS, something that has grown in an organic way, rather than designed from the ground up with a clean application interface.

With all the different versions of tools and SDKs, even the forums provide little help.

Still, I have the skeleton code working now, it didnt take a few hours, it took all day and isn’t quite as far along as I had hoped. But we persevere. I made progress and got it doing what it needs to do.

Take that SharePoint. And I know, that a month ago, I would have burnt through a full pack of smokes today. Easily. Staring intently at the screen, not even acknowledging how many I lit up. This is pretty impressive actually. I got my head around the interface. And I haven’t really had the burning yearning for a cigarette. Despite the headache it has been, today has been another good day.

Me and SharePoint will have a rematch one day soon I am sure.

Today…I am coding

For the past two months, I’ve been working on an application for work.

Although this falls outside my normal remit, the goal of the app is to streamline the work of our team and to consolidate the information we require, to standardise and ensure consistency. Ultimately, this ought to provide massive time savings, not just to my immediate team, but to the wider team too.

And it’s close to completion. Over 11,000 lines of code and I am bug fixing.