07 August 2013

When I use too many programs that I also maintain

This post has nothing particular of interest, I'm just venting because I need a break. Read on to understand why:

I'm very detail oriented when I program. And when I see a critical bug, I need to fix it right away. I get so hooked on it that I often go into long sessions, and I'll be miserable if I have to stop in the middle of it.

Now, here's an example of what often happens then:

I am working on a paid project for a client. It has to do with recovering data from a complex file structure.

The data structures are in binary format, so I need to be able to read the data inside.

Since I have my own disk editor, iBored, I start writing a template for this file format. Since iBored's template system is a work in progress, it naturally leads to me having to add new code to iBored to suit a particular new construct in the template syntax. So I add new code to iBored.

The template system uses RbScript so that I can perform calculations to decypher complex data structures. RbScript is fairly limited by default, though. For instance, there is no sort function.

Which means that I have to write a sort function in RbScript. I need a RbScript editor. Real Studio's own Script editor sucks enormously - it doesn't even have Undo. Fortunately, there is Arbed. It has a better RbScript editor.

While writing my script in Arbed, I notice that its syntax parser doesn't indent Interfaces correctly. I like to fix that. I can, because Arbed is another tool of mine.

The RbScript editor and syntax highlighter is coming from the open source class "CustomEditField", written by Alex Restrepo. He has stopped working on it. Coincidentally, I took over.

Thus I am working several hours on the CustomEditField open source project to fix its indentation code, which is fairly convoluted (partly my fault). Eventually I get this done.

Next I need to merge the fixes of the CustomEditField project into the Arbed project file. Naturally, I use Arbed for this.

Merging takes a while because I had recently added new features to CustomEditField directly in Arbed, without merging those improvements back into the open source version. Meaning that I have to merge some code from CEF to Arbed, and other code in the other direction. I have to do this carefully. But eventually, I get all the changes merged into both projects.

When I try to save the updated projects, Arbed gives me an error message: wrong id in block header.

Great. So I have to find this bug. Takes me another 2 hours. It was very very well hidden.

That's where I am as of writing this blog post.

Now, I can go back to merge the changes between the projects once again. Then I can hopefully continue writing the Sort function in RbScript, after which I can finish the iBored template to view the data so that I can write the code I'm getting paid for.

Programming is fun. But so exhausting when you care too much.


  1. I have the same issue in getting obsessed with fixing an issue. Sounds like you are closing in on a StackOverflow exception here!

  2. It's a sickness, isn't it....

  3. I can so so so well identify with you on this. It happens to me a lot.

  4. Das ist kein Coder-Phänomen - mir geht es mit meiner Frau genauso. Wenn Sie im Wohnzimmer anfängt neue Gardinen zu besorgen, endet es meistens damit eine komplett neue Wohnzimmereinrichtung zu kaufen! just kidding ;-)