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So I'm in a little bit of a pickle. I suppose some people have gotten in my situation at some point, I know but at least as many have kept going for various reasons. To put the problem shortly; I am stuck in a project which I have after several attempts of "new fresh attitude" ended up drained out of energy and creativity and been less productive than I wish I were.

The scenario is this; I had earlier been handed a, in my opinion, half done project made in Drupal. At first it had really terrible code, but I managed to get them to clean it up a bit first. Needless to say, a poorly constructed house full of used clothes and thrash is still a poorly constructed house even without the used clothes and the thrash.

My hope currently is to regain that spark I have for all of my other projects that lets me work effeciently and mainly gets things done. In this case, I have little to none interest in working with this project. Here are some reason:

  • The code have quite some room for improvements. The only things that I find acceptable are the things contributed from Drupal, which are simply implemented into this project. Most custom things made in it is nothing I cherish.
  • I can't push myself to endure it, because I know this project will be something I'm forced to work with in the long term. In the same way I can't push myself to run the last mile of a marathon faster if I know I have to walk the entire way home afterwards.
  • I've read up quite a bit regarding people's opinion upon Drupal, and have came to the conclusion that Drupal is great if you have the right mindset for it. I don't have that mindset.
    I prefer to create as much as possible myself and simply let a framework such as CodeIgniter worry about the process. It helps me be more confident with my code and less dependent on a module fetched from somewhere.
  • I generally don't believe in the project. It already takes silly long time to load, weird bugs appears from time to time that I can't even solve through google effeciently. It feels like the best thing I can do with the project is to patch it up, but I strive to do great websites, not make bad ones less bad.
  • Drupal has a long learning process, and I've been put in the middle of a half made project and am supposed to implemented more advanced features. Usually I have no problem to add these things in my other projects, but in Drupal it feels close to impossible often.

Apart from this, I might add that I'm currently economicly independent and don't fear loosing my job for that reason. I generally have nice colleagues but I work alone as a developer and would prefer to have at least someone whom I could discuss technical solutions with.

This project isn't something that will go away from my understanding, I've sat down with my boss, explaining how I feel regarding this project but all I get in reply is "We've spend too much time and money on this project. It needs to get completed." From my point of view, we're currently throwing money into a pit, hoping that the money will reach the surface sooner of later.

Question:
How can I regain the spark for this project? The creativity simply isn't there for me. This project won't give me much knowledge that I will have use of in the future (I have maintained lots and lots of code for 3 years) and it doesn't lead me towards my goal; to create "the perfect website".

If I can't regain the spark, what other alternatives should I consider?

Note:
I am aware that this question can seem too localized, but I think my main question can help many in a similiar position. I'm sorry if I sound like a spoiled developer who only wants to take on specific tasks, but I work so much better with project I'm comfortable with and I also like being productive.

  • Is it feasible to just hack it with a quick crappy code an move on? Are you going to support it in future? – Den Jul 5 '13 at 12:48
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    I don't get your second reason. The fact that you would be forced to work with it in the long term should be incentive enough to keep improving it now? – Marjan Venema Jul 5 '13 at 13:17
  • Because with the time I probably would have to put on cleaning up the code, I personally could probably rebuild it better and I wouldn't have to work with Drupal in that scenario. – Robin Castlin Jul 5 '13 at 13:41
  • Is the project interesting in it's target? So, outside of code, is the reason why the project is initiated motivating? We can't develop projects which lead to nothing, motivation is then always an issue. You need the "why" most of the time to become more productive. – Luc Franken Jul 5 '13 at 15:08
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I have experienced the same thing, it came to a point where I had this feeling same This project won't give me much knowledge that I will have use of in the future. But I when look more into it, it's not the project that is the problem but me. It gave more insight into my personality as a developer. Usually when things like this happen I talk to my lead or the management and discuss my concerns, if they won't take me off the project I simply rewrite the components that get in my nerves.

  • Thanks for your insights. I've tried to go by the thought "this is a me"-problem, but haven't succesfully managed resparking through it. I will consider to try it again though. – Robin Castlin Jul 5 '13 at 13:43
  • I've come to the realization that it's probably a "me problem". However the thought I can't get rid of is that I can't see the point for myself to ever use Drupal. – Robin Castlin Jul 12 '13 at 9:34
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Usually, when I am facing an ugly task that I don't want to do, here is how I get past it.

  1. If I am overwhelmed by the size of a task, then I disect the problem into smaller, more reasonable tasks that I can accomplish and focus on completing each one individually and don't think too far ahead. Keep track of your accomplishments and you will be encouraged as you see your progress.
  2. If there are things that could be done to make it less dreadful, make a list of them and apply them gradually (see 1).
  3. If Drupal is the thing you dread, then there are 2 things you should do about it.
    a) Face your fear: give yourself a homework assignment to learn drupal (on a smaller scale, on your terms, at home). Once you learn it, you can make an informed decision if it is/isn't for you. Till then, this might just be a "pain is weakness leaving the body" kind of thing.
    b) Give yourself another homework assignment to build a model that demonstrates how this could be done better in another technology. If you get it done quickly and it appears to be superior, you might get permission to implement it (because it is already done). If not, you have gained the knowledge of two comparable technologies.

Also, there is a distinct benefit to you, if you can try to see things from your boss's point of view. There might be more happening here than you are aware of. Suppose, for a moment, that he wasn't just making a bad decision. How is that possible? Under what conditions would his decision be the right thing to do? Of course, he might actually be wrong, but I'm saying you could benefit from considering a different perspective.

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It looks as if you are looking for reasons to quit and you have quite a few of them already. I'd say quit. Do it. If you have to work on an inherited, crappy project that you don't want to improve and it doesn't teach you anything you really want to know and it's also for the long term, I'd say just be good to yourself and treat yourself to a new job. Preferably one that has interesting projects and a better pay :)

  • Yeah, it's been leaning more and more towards that direction. I don't mind switching jobs aslong as I end up somewhere that I can utilize my passion for coding. – Robin Castlin Jul 5 '13 at 18:53
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Blog About Your Experience

You could blog about how best to use drupal. You have more than enough examples on how you would convert crappy drupal code to great drupal code. This would accomplish a few things...

  1. You would have an updated, well functioning application in the end
  2. You would be educating the masses on what to do and what not to do in drupal
  3. You would create a drupal following
  4. You would stay engaged

I got burned out on writing code... any code. I was so burned out I wouldn't even check my email when I came home at night. After 9 years I started to get back into writing code. A lot changed in 9 years. The language I used grew by leaps and bounds. Screen resolution went from 640 X 480 to almost endless. Google replaced bookstores. I found myself in a completely different environment.

It's like I had to learn all over again. It's like I was given an opportunity to go back and do it over again. So I embraced it. I'm having fun and I'm doing it for me... if others benefit then great. Here's my blog

Similar but different situation

  • Interesting idea. I have noticed I can make breakthroughs simply thinking through trying to explain what I've done so far, just to realize that I missed out on trying something. Will give it a shot! – Robin Castlin Jul 5 '13 at 18:51

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