Frank and I have been working for about 9 days on this little cloud programming project. We have a little server application we are reasonably happy with that we are ready to deploy, but when I look at the few hundred lines of code and tests we have, it doesn't seem like a lot to show for 9 days' work. Where did the time go?
A lot of the time was spent installing and learning software, and some of that was debt - maintenance and learning I should perhaps have done before. It started off with my need for a new machine, since some of this software - for example MongoDB - does not run on my Windows XP laptop. Sadly, IBM could not furnish me a pre-configured machine that I deemed suitable. With hindsight, I should probably have taken what was on offer, but I decided to buy an SSD drive and some memory for my existing machine and upgrade to Windows 7 myself. Unfortunately the IBM automated install of Windows 7 failed and the complete download, install and manual fix-up probably cost me a couple of days. I would have lost some of that time anyway even if I had taken the preconfigured machine, because getting a new machine is always messy.
Once I got a machine working I installed Python, Eclipse, EGit/Git, and MongoDB, and probably some other stuff I have forgotten. I have not programmed in almost 10 years, which added to my debt. If I had kept programming , even in a different language, I would at least have been comfortable in Eclipse, which I once knew pretty well. Learning a new programming language isn't terribly hard, but it does take a while to learn syntax, libraries, utilities, idioms and so on. For the first few days the sensation was similar to when you are first learning to snowboard - everything feels extremely awkward and you fall down a lot.
I'm still a beginner in these technologies, but I'm beginning to get to the stage where I'm functional. As I get though the initial stage of being all thumbs, the pleasure of programming is beginning to return, and after all, it's a fun project. It feels as though only half the time in the last nine days was productive, but I hope that percentage will be higher in the coming weeks.