Monday, January 28, 2013

Project Purgatory

I went to Startup Weekend this weekend, to which I will dedicate a full post... but one thing that's on my mind before then is how a number of my past projects are stuck in this terrible, almost-dead, zombie like state of code-rot and limbs falling off and hiding in a cave where no one can see them.

Project purgatory

Let's define Project Purgatory as when you had a really great app/prototype/demo of something, but servers died or APIs you depended on deprecated features you used, and you have little to zero evidence left of the awesomeness that once was.

What to do? 

Crap, I don't know. Write blog posts lamenting it for starters. List which projects got stuck in hell and which have escaped and look for trends? The options I'm considering are:
  1. Let go
  2. Vow to dedicate chunks of time to freeing certain projects from purgatory 
  3. Try really hard to not accidentally condemn projects to hell


My robust and vital projects 

Sketch-a-bit survived. It's definitely had it's share of excitement (Tom's servers are full and Adam must rescue everything while Kathleen is at Startup Weekend!) but the app lives on and still generates lots of cool sketches.

The pattern of other surviving apps includes stand-alone apps that live on in the android market or are hosted on flash game websites or are just simple websites hosted on my own website.


Projects trapped in hell (turns out they're all tied to Facebook)


Weird Sorta-Like-Poking Thing <-- at least I have that URL as a trophy

Actually, I don't care about this one. For a little while in 2007-8, the world had the ability to snorgle each other with kittens in a pile of more kittens instead of just "poking" them, and it's okay that that's not possible anymore. It doesn't work because FB requires things to come from a secure HTTPS server and I didn't do that. And/or you need signing/verification certificates that cost money.


Picard pretending to actually work. I'm confused. This is an example of the kind of HELL it's in where I'm not even sure how broken it is and it looks ever so temptingly alive.

Ah, there we go with Picard. Stuck in an infinite authentication loop for some reason.

Actually, after writing this therapeutic post, it turns out that Picard is the one that I'm really bothered about. We made this sweet flashcard learning game and put it INSIDE of facebook and now it's basically trapped inside of an impossible-to-fix no-scrolling iframe nightmare.

I value being able to log into things with Facebook or Twitter and I think I want to learn how to do that better, while developing things that technically live outside the realm of Facebook.


What would you do? 

It's been valuable to collect and save little artifacts along the way. At least I've got some screenshots on flickr. 

Since it's really hard for me to Stop Caring about some of these projects, I think I'm going to schedule some evening time into my calendar in the coming weeks that says "spend 2 hours trying to improve the situation."

Got any other suggestions for getting out/staying out of project purgatory?


  1. You know, Picard was pretty awesome! But now it's broken. :-( After I graduate (my defense is March 8!! OMG!), and, um, looking for a day job, maybe I'll pick it up again? Do you still wanna work on it together?

    1. March 8, that's coming up soon! Exciting!! I had such a great time working with you and everyone else on Picard AND I would LOVE to see it come back to life, so YES! I think it will be pretty easy to get it back on its feet.