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The Joy of X(code)

Hello again and hope you all had a good Easter, in the circumstances! I suspect I'm not the only one for whom it felt like a very long weekend.


I managed to work half days over the Easter period so things are still progressing with the app. The party funds screen is now built, and it's now possible to accept (or reject) donations and have the funds available to spend on campaigning. Now I need to have a campaigning function built to take advantage of it!


After months of planning and design, the game is now finally starting to come together, and I'll admit to getting a real buzz when it does. Far too frequently development can be a frustrating business - days can feel entirely wasted on the smallest of issues, and so when progress happens it's worth celebrating.


Early in my career I spent a year on a large IT project prompted by what was (somewhat incorrectly) labelled the "millennium bug" by the media. The programme's aim was to replace the client's old, non-Y2K compliant order management system by 31st December 1999. In common with so many projects that year, failure to deliver was seen as simply not an option - fears of systems meltdowns, bank accounts being set to zero and aircraft falling out of the sky were the order of the day. This particular project became known as "the widowmaker" by those who worked on it, for its long hours (24 hour and longer shifts were not uncommon) and extreme pressure. As with so many similar situations, the pressure brought the team together, and there was a great camaraderie and spirit amongst us. One of my abiding memories is of a colleague, now sadly no longer with us, leading his team as they battled to integrate two systems that just would not talk to each other. The time was about 3am and they had been in the office for almost 18 hours. Finally, on about the 500th attempt, he and his boys pushed through their test order, and watched the screen with weary anticipation expecting yet another failure. This time however was different, as I became aware when a roar worthy of a last-minute cup final winner suddenly erupted from their bank of desks. "YEEEEESSSS!!! IT F***ING WORKS!!!!" cried my colleague as he danced around the otherwise empty office.


Integration team, Y2K project, 1999, 3am. As I recall the code went straight into production...

I've not had quite that kind of emotional outburst yet, but there have been a few fist-pumping moments to balance out the head-scratching. On some occasions I've managed to enter a block of code and have it work first time, which encourages me that I may just be getting the hang of this thing. The platform on which I'm developing the game, Apple's Xcode tool, isn't without its bugs, but it's a world away from the simple code editor I first used on a ZX81 as I mentioned a couple of weeks ago.


And so to the week ahead. On the feature list I have the build of the other party and campaign screens, as well as implementing a more flexible UI theme manager for controlling the look and feel of the app. Hopefully no 3am finishes this week.


Take care and speak soon,


Richard

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