Episode 3 Fifteen months ago...
"It makes complete sense," the Director burbles. "We need the software and Philip's prepared to write it."
Philip, in this case, is the Director's nephew and is part-way through his "technology" degree and "knows a thing or two about programming"...
"So do we have an analysis of needs, a timeframe and a clear definition of what it is we want him to write?" I ask.
"I think we all know that we just need the software to fix our current issues and we want it as soon as possible," the Director says.
"Around a month or two," Philip estimates.
"Well, good to know we sorted that out then," I say.
The present day...
"So within a couple of weeks we should have this nailed," the Director says happily.
"And all I'll need to know is what phones you use so I can program that into the system," Philip says.
"Well, I'm an Android user, but I identify as an iPhone user," the PFY says.
The Boss blinks.
The Director blinks.
No one wants to be the first to say that this isn't a thing – just in case it is a thing.
But it's not.
Still... no one wants to say it.
. . .
It's a bit like the time the PFY wanted a disabled parking spot for medical reasons. Medical reasons that turned out to be IBS – and not the real IBS either. That said, the PFY's demonstration of his "inflammable" bowel syndrome is something the building's still talking about – long after the Boss's eyebrows grew back.
"So what's left to be done?" I ask.
"Well," Philip says, "the app is pretty much all there on the iOS and Android platforms; I just need to do a little tweaking on the screen models and the notification scheduling then I'll start work on the backend."
"So we currently have..."
"The app. Mostly," Philip says.
I feel the pink mist descending on me and notice a very prominent vein in the PFY's forehead at the same time. I look to the Boss and his Adam's apple is going down and up faster than cake at a bulimia dinner so I can tell he too is thinking about how much money we've wasted paying Philip to create something with all the functionality of a static web page.
"So. How long. Will the backend. Take?" the Boss chokes out.
"Oh, a month or two, I'd expect," Philip says. "There were a lot of changes to the app which pushed the development out quite a bit."
"My fault," the Director blurts. "I gave him a couple of pointers on font selection and colours."
"And there was some other stuff too," Philip says.
"Yes, well, my wife had a couple of suggestions."
"Not using orange on black and limiting the number of fonts to two," Philip adds.
"And that took more than a year?"
"Well, I needed to do a couple of complete rewrites when I changed from C++ to C# and then back to C++ – for functionality."
"WHAT BLOODY FUNCTIONALITY?!" the PFY cracks. "THERE'S NO BLOODY FUNCTIONALITY! IT'S NO MORE FUNCTIONAL THAN A PIECE OF PAPER!"
"I... think that's a little inaccurate," the Director says calmly.
"He's right," I say to the PFY, nodding to the Director, "because at least you can wipe your arse with a piece of paper – and paper knows what to do with a backend."
"It's just a backend issue, it shouldn't take too long."
"So you've looked at the backend?" I ask.
"Do you even know what the backend is?"
"Do you know what a backend is?" the PFY asks.
"It's the database," Philip says drily.
"Could be a database, could be a mail system, could be a API or even a physical interface. Do you know which one you're using?"
"Well, I'm not too sure what I'm going to be reporting on just yet, but the client is fully functional."
"HOW CAN IT BE FULLY FUNCTIONAL IF YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU'RE TALKING TO?!" the PFY rages.
"It's just an interface," Philip burbles. "I'll just massage the input into a format that matches the outputs on my app."
"What are the outputs on your app?" I ask.
"It's a dashboard traffic light, with Green being Normal, Orange being Warning and Red meaning Critical."
"Are there any inputs in your app?"
"Of course, there's swipe down to refresh and a reset button."
"What does the reset button do?"
"At the moment it just clears the screen and does a refresh – but in the future it'll clear the screen, resync the data at the other end and then refresh."
"And by resync you mean refresh?"
"So let me get this straight," the Boss says, pressing a thumb to his eyesocket as he contemplates the low-tech wall that his entire development budget has been pissed up against.
>updown< >updown< >updown<
"We've paid you to make an App – on a phone, with three different coloured words..." .... >updown< >updown< >updown<... "and ONE input – that doesn't actually talk to anything at the other end yet?"
"Well, no one's told me what's on the other end yet," Philip says defensively.
"Have they not?" the Boss asks, finally understanding the problem.
"Well, it's right over here."
"Where?" the Director asks.
"Over here..." the Boss says, looking pointedly at the PFY and myself.
"... by the window."