I work in the Language Resource Center on my campus. It's a relatively small lab, and our job is to help students, not code software. Being a Computer Science student, I took the initiative to start coding useful utilities to make our jobs as lab assistants easier.

Recently, Google declared a shut-down of our data storage mechanism, so I decided that it was time to completely rework the entire system that I've built (alone) over the past year. I have more experience now, and I want to do it correctly with the (better) tools that are now available to us.

There is another CS student that works with me in this lab, who will continue working with me for one more semester (e.g. a 4-month period). I never asked him to contribute to the original project because I started it last summer when he wasn't scheduled to work.

The goal of this project is to build an integrated 'manager' application for our staff and my boss; the utility is a web service built using HTML/CSS/JavaScript. My coworker doesn't have any experience with JavaScript, HTML nor CSS. This developer also has no experience with the code base that I built previously (purely JavaScript), which would need to be re-worked (albeit slightly) to work with the new system.

Again, this is not a required duty in our positions. I enjoy coding things to automate menial tasks, and to make our jobs easier. It was never a requirement.


There is a hard deadline of mid-August, when faculty will start submitting requests to us again. The old system has to be rebuilt (some parts retrofitted) before then.

Why ask?

My boss suggested that this coworker of mine contribute to the new project to speed up development. I worry that my coworker (and boss, for that matter) might take it as a slight if he doesn't help develop this system. On the other hand, there was a 9-month period where he could have contributed to the previous project, and a 4-month period that he could have taken over management of said project (I was in France) - he has never shown interest in actively contributing to the previous project, and I have no problem with that.

I'm concerned because I feel that helping him learn HTML, CSS and JS, as well as Google's API and toolset will really slow things down. We essentially have two months to re-construct the old system, and I feel that the time it would take to get him acquainted with the tools and languages used in this project, I could have built it myself.

Is there a protocol?

I've come up with the following as my options in this situation:

  1. Just start working on the new project alone, assuming that my coworker does not want and/or never wanted to contribute.
  2. Ask my coworker if he wants me to help him learn HTML/CSS/JS and start showing him the previous code base as well as the current project's plan.
  3. Ask my coworker if he has any interest in helping with the new project (he doesn't need to have an interest, but would he take that as You must work on this!?)

The question

Is it worth the time/effort, given the deadline, to have my coworker work on this project with me? Or would I detriment progress by having him co-develop?

  • 1
    What is your specific question? I agree that given the short time you have to work with, adding someone may slow you down. Jun 27 '14 at 15:38
  • Right, my bad, I forgot to ask! Edited :) Jun 27 '14 at 15:40
  • This seems to be more a workplace issue than a programming one. You might consider asking the moderators to migrate the question to workplace.stackexchange.com Jun 27 '14 at 16:21
  • @BartvanIngenSchenau I disagree. This is about whether or not to put a programmer on a project due to project requirements, deadlines, and skills needed to accomplish the job. Considering that this is about teamwork as programmers, it's more suited for Programmers.SE, in my opinion. Jun 27 '14 at 16:27

No-one can really say, given the details provided. Your co-worker might want to help but felt it wasn't part of his job so never offered, or didn't want to tread on your toes.

So, easiest thing to do is to find a self-contained piece of work that you can offer him to help you, and if it turns out to be poor, the worst thing that can happen is that you have to re-do it, which you would have had to do if he wasn't there at all.

Never hurts to offer, and in 4 months time, you can do what you like with his code without any fear of offence (as he won't be there any more). There doesn't seem to be a downside, and there is the great possibility of an upside if he excels at his task.

  • I think that's a really good suggestion. I'll get to working on the front-end aspect of things and database design. Once I get the db set up, I could have him write some queries that will be necessary for the functionality. He is a competent programmer in any case, and he does know SQL because we took a database class together :) Jun 27 '14 at 16:29

Introduce your boss to Brook's Law.

"adding manpower to a late software project makes it later"

If your boss says that you should involve the coworker despite Brook's Law; congratulations, you just became a tutor.

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