Compressed Thoughts

A blog by Matthew Rease

Part of a webpage next to some html/php code

Work That No One Will Ever See

Old Code pt.2 A ton of hardwork, yet the result remains the same, at least to an outsider looking in.

I'm not sure if this will resonate with as many people as the previous post since, depending on what kind of things you program, this may not apply to you. But I still believe this is worth talking about, for the sake of the people doing the work.

I worked extremely hard over the course of several hours a week or so ago, making the code that powers this blog much easier to work with, much more efficient, and all around, just better designed. And while I'm not asking for pity or something silly like that, as in the grand scheme of things, this site is extremely inconsequential. But I do want to bring this to attention for those who do this kind of stuff for a living, but the most they ever hear is: "hey, this isn't working, can you fix it?"

For me, I work on this site quite often. It's a passion project. I don't expect praise when something works, hell I honestly don't even expect any traffic, other than when I basically guilt my friends into checking it out. So when I make "huge improvements to the backend", I don't expect anyone to care, and I'm okay with that. But imagine you do stuff like this for a living. You get an email from your higherups, saying that a user complained about the system, and that it's been slow for everyone, and you get told to fix it. You examine the system as a whole for a while, when suddenly you're struck with a moment of genius. You know that your idea will take a lot of time, and a ton of rewriting of the system, but you know that the benefits are well worth it, as the system will be much more friendlier to work with in the future. So, you "slave away" at your keyboard for hours, and after some debugging: viola! It works! Now - to the end user, they can't see any difference (other than the fact that the system isn't "down" or something like that anymore), and even though you know how hugely improved it is, no one else does.

Now, that's not necessarily something to get upset about, I'm sure stuff like this happens all the time in the world, maybe the traffic light system of a city gets hugely updated, yet all drivers see, is traffic lights. But the thing that makes me feel bad for these people, and what I think we should all stop to think about before we call some service terrible, is this: nearly every single email that programmer/technician/traffic-specialist get, is something along the lines of: (y)our service isn't working, make it work. And at the end, maybe they get some kind of informal, almost robotic, response that says something like: "thank you, here's your paycheck". Now, I'm sure there are plenty of workspaces where this doesn't happen, but to all the thankless heroes out there - thank you.

Yeah that's a cheesy ending to the post, but I'm just trying to make us think about something, that we probably haven't thought about before.

Oh but you can still call a service crap if it's crap. There's no way around that :)

EDIT: Also, I tried finding a relevant picture for this post, but all I found were terrible boomer memes, so that's why I just made a fake screenshot.