Alex Bea

Let’s Get Excited About Maintenance!

Link: Let’s Get Excited About Maintenance! from Andrew Russell and Lee Vinsel in The New York Times

I started a post yesterday about my new role in web development, but it felt silly to write a pure life update post. That’s not really what I want this blog to be. Then this morning I read the NY Times opinion piece linked above. It directly compared the attention and excitement that “innovation” receives and the minimal attention and disregard that maintenance tends to receive. The piece argues for policy that focuses on maintenance due to its need and as an area where diverging political factions can likely agree.

Infrastructure and the proper, smart maintenance thereof is pretty consistently a policy area I can fully get behind. There are various contributing factors to this. For one, the romanticizing of blue collar heroes who keep our cities running from Rocky’s Philadelphia to Good Will Hunting’s Boston to my own grandfather, the tugboat captain. I’ve also found myself more drawn to the idea of business ideas that are “unshiny” while delivering true value for the average person, rather than trying to be the next Steve Jobs.

Point is, I’m all down for fixing up some bridges. Don’t blame me for your pothole, friend.

But what does this have to do with a web developer’s blog that’s usually about web development? Since mid-May I’ve been working at Philadelphia’s own P’unk Avenue as a support developer. The headline about P’unk Ave is the very cool open-source NodeJS CMS we created and maintain, Apostrophe. It’s also very impressive how many of our clients stick with us for support and continued feature development. It’s now my job to help maintain those relationships as much as maintaining their software.

Website support doesn’t get much press and greenfield projects are very nice for the sense of control and opportunity. Still, I’ve found myself happy as a support developer at P’unk and looking forward to continuing for a good while. It’s an excellent way to learn something new (like Node is for me), it’s full of juicy problem-solving, and it makes life better for the real, non-techie people who use the sites we’ve built.

So I do think we should get excited about maintenance. That goes for bridges, for public transportation, and for websites, too.