How Bug Fixing Hardens You

Doing the jobs no one else wants to do

You ever seen the movie Social Network or watched the series Silicon Valley? These two shows basically summed up how I imaged getting into web development would be.

To be fair in some ways it is very much like that. You meet similar types of people, the offices are nice, there’s lots of hoody wearing, side-tilted screens and bitching about code editors (see my plethora of Vim posts to get a flavour of that).

The difference is mainly, I’m not a genius and I don’t have any new ideas for how to “make the world a better place”.

When Facebook was founded in the mid noughties the web-app world was pretty fertile and there was loads of space for new apps and ideas. You might be mistaken that the web app world is still that way but it’s not really.

The web app space gave way to the mobile app space and now it’s moving into the blockchain/crypto one.

If you’re a super-creative person it’d much more prudent to start looking into blockchain — I should probably take my own advice 😅.

From what I’ve seen, many big companies are trying to build their online presence further, governments are trying to improve their online services for various catchment areas, banks still want people and, of course, any kind of defence organisation are desperate for people who’ll work for them.

The company I work for do the government and big company type work, which mainly consists of: making complicated web forms and fixing things that other devs have abandoned.

But actually I’ve started to enjoy this kind of work. I like problem solving and I like computers. I don’t like meetings much, but that’s another story.

The lead dev from my last job said to me “bug fixing is easy, but making new things is when I get nervous”.

I thought, what? Bug fixing is super boring, I just want to be creative!

Before that I was working for a tiny startup, I was the only web app dev and I was basically just tasked to make cool things for the CTO.

He’d have an idea and I’d get to make it. It was amazing; zero pressure, no testing cycle, making up my own tickets, running my own sprints. It was an internal web app so there was no serious worry about breaching data or client considerations. All I had to do was check in with him every week or so.

I was getting paid about 25 grand, basically nothing, but after spending years as a barman that was loads.

The real downside was, I was getting spoiled and undisciplined. My next job did have a testing cycle, it had unit testing, typescript, real-world users and…other devs. lol.

What a shock to the system.

Suddenly the bugs I introduced with a new feature mattered, suddenly my experimental code patterns where confusing for other devs, suddenly my strong opinions were causing decision making that I couldn’t back-peddle out of.

Now I understand what my old lead dev was talking about. Making new features is a much bigger responsibility, and every experimental bit of code I pushed was a risk I didn’t have to carry in my earliest days.

Now I find there’s an element of detective work in finding the cause of a difficult problem, which is really enjoyable and I can enjoy the fact that bug fixing doesn’t come with that extra pressure.

On the whole, dealing with other peoples bugs can be boring, but everybody loves you when they’re fixed.

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