Lets make it really complicated

Over the last two weeks i’ve been playing with some open source project that has a bit of a kick starter going to fund their idea. I came across it through my boss who probably found it on redit but in essence it’s a forum using nodejs as the backend and some Jquery at the front end but all in all it looks pretty awesome; sure it has a few flaws but it’s less than 6 months old.

In my first venture into using it on my laptop I came across a bug with the title of a new post, when you reply it locks the title to stop you editing it on reply, unfortunately it didn’t unlock it so when you went to post a new topic you were unable to set a title. I decided that I could raise a ticket or I could just have a look at it so I had a lock and submitted a fix to them; to my amazement they accepted my fix! We decided that this is a good platform to use for what we’re trying to do at work but it needs a few core fixes followed by quite a bit of integration and customisations, the core things we need to fix in the product (in order of importance) is

  1. Deployment to bespoke path
  2. Increased logging for debugging
  3. Additional authentication routes

So I decided that not knowing the code I should start at working on point one, it makes it useful and gets me involved in a lot of the code so hopefully I’ll learn something. It seemed a sensible place to start, it was a sensible place to start; unfortunately being a new project there isn’t a lot of documents or sites to google for this stuff so I’ve been learning the hard way.

The main challenge is learning the code, the other is working out why things were done in a certain way. So one of the issues I have is that currently there’s something like 6 config.json files all used for different things, with different config so I need to backwards engineer all of it, a little annoying seeing as with some better technology choices it could just be one config file, but then I also don’t know why things have been done that way.

Challenging me more!

Up until recently my experience to nodeJS had been rather limited but I had used some cool things like express, Winston and Jade but I has always had the luxury of talking to the developer that wrote it to help me understand why it was done that way and how I should use it; this time I’m on hard mode, I have to understand it from reading and I have questions! Hopefully the people running the project will have some time to spend helping me get up to speed and answering my stupid question, I read through the code and I just don’t know what’s going on, I think this is partly down to not really being a programmer and partly to not knowing the language very well so everything is a little odd; at least I hope thats the case, if it is just bat shit crazy then at least I’m confused for a reason :)

I’m definitely going to persevere as I’m, sure it will be useful and it is in the project teams best interest to help me understand what it does so I can start submitting “awesome” changes back to the project even if they don’t want them :)

Either way I’m looking forward to diving into the code a bit more and trying to guess what it’s doing; hopefully I can make it work for our purposes while providing useful (although not needed) features back to the project. I’m also looking forward to increasing what I’m doing in complication so I can start doing the more bespoke work we needed with integrations and maybe adding an achievements framework or some sort of gamification to the forum tool


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