- Lance Johnson 09.14.2015
There are moments when I regret not developing client-side apps. This is usually during the 100 days when 1. my mind isn’t racing with thoughts on how to better understand a client’s specific needs; or 2. I’m not trying to control the maniac within screaming for me to bash-in my computer already from coding frustration. Despite what some people might believe, web development isn’t just copying and pasting code; however, there will be days when even the skills and experience you’ve gained may not be of much help. So allow me to give you a peek at what goes on inside my mind just before I head to bed to catch some Z’s.
While working on a project, there are times when my whole world revolves around my computer and me. Despite my love and respect for my family and friends, there are days when even tending to nature’s call becomes a great inconvenience as it takes me away from the code I’ve been trying to fix for hours. During these time, if I force myself to take a break, it can only be to make a sandwich and watch a 21-minute sitcom on the same screen. I do try balancing my professional and personal life, but I can’t be thankful enough for those who understand and support me. Well, 80% of the time. They spend the remaining 20% trying to pry the keyboard out of my hands.
(My cat is so curious! She’s staring at me as I write this paragraph!) We all know that cats rule the Internet. There was once a time when taking a break from work meant watching a few funny cat videos, or following the life of Lil Bub or Grumpy Cat. Unfortunately, this got even worse after the arrival of my new cat Blackie. This tuxedo cat is always meowing for attention, attacking my mouse and stepping all over the keyboard trying to ruin my progress, I’m convinced. Equally distracting are her affectionate moments, which include head bops when my nose is close to touching the computer screen and adorable purrs as she squeezes herself onto my lap.
As much as I enjoy dressing up, web development tends to bring out the frumpy side in me. There are days when I would be in my PJs all day because changing my clothes means an extra five minutes away from my computer; however, I did get to master the two-minute ‘drab to fab’ technique as a result. Basically, I keep a brush nearby and have a suit jacket behind my seat. Using both, I can videoconference with clients on Skype and not look homeless. Besides, seeing the other me may worry them. They may interpret my style (which I like to call “low maintenance”) as a sign that I don’t take their project seriously.
Web designers are true rock stars. The work they put into aesthetics allows the website to gain more search engine hits which, in turn, attracts people to interact with the modules we developers write. I admit to being jealous of them, especially because they can easily integrate web elements by dragging and dropping them rather than writing hundreds of lines of code. I wonder how things would have panned out had I opted for something else altogether, such as veterinary sciences (which would have saved me hundreds of dollars on the black & white ball of fluff staring at me).
While I respect web designers and love their dedication, I don’t like people mixing their trade with mine or using them interchangeably. Web designers are the architects, focusing on the look and feel of the website. Their expertise on the visual aspect allows them to select the right colors and graphics, which ensures the best information flow. On the other hand, web developers are builders who create the foundations designers work upon. They combine expertise in different programming languages and can even learn a few design tools to quickly make small edits.
I think the last time I soaked up some sun was before I started college and majored in this field. Now, even a few rays making their way through my curtains turn me into Dracula, i.e. hissing and shrinking back into dark corners. I’ve become so used to dark settings that it’s gotten hard for me to step into sunlight. Though I do miss it and would love a healthy tan to counter the gothic white I’ve become, I know it will be a while before I can step out into the sun again. (sigh).
I have to keep my energy levels high throughout the day, which is why most of my meals contain sugary treats, followed by coffee. I know both are dreadful for my health, but I need them to carry on at times. Especially after only a few hours of sleep. I have tried changing my diet, but I care about my clients too much and won’t accept delivering mediocre work. When my perfectionist bone starts to tingle, it drives me to deliver only the best. Even if it means passing out on the sofa for days after the project wraps up.
The semicolon is the Loki of the web development world. This evil punctuation mark tends to go missing at times (maybe I forgot to add it or maybe it disappeared after Blackie took her hourly walk on my keyboard). That’s when I start playing ‘Locate the Semicolon’, a nightmare of a task that involves searching through thousands of lines to find the elusive punctuation mark. Some IDEs do alert you at times, but that’s not the norm, which means at least an hour of skimming through code and fighting the cat off the keyboard before another one goes missing.
And it wasn’t a pretty sight. IE 6 is truly a nightmare when it comes to developing web apps. You’re bound to spend double or triple the time on developing for this browser than you would for Chrome or Firefox. Even then, it won’t run as smoothly or as impressive on Microsoft’s browser. I’ve had to deal with many bugs and faulty effects and don’t even get me started on the security issues you need to look out for! It’s because of this that I tell my clients to optimize websites for certain browsers. After all, it’s all about the client at the end of the day.
Despite these drawbacks, I wake up to my computer every day simply because I love what I do. Besides, my cat loves my job since she gets to “play” with my PC whenever she wants and enjoys the fruits of my labor in the form of new toys, delicious cat food, and catnip. But, on a serious note, web development is my life and I can’t think of any other thing I’d rather do. The best part is when a client sends a thank you note or leaves positive feedback!