The mess they left behind

Tag Soup

I had a bit of geek pleasure this week. I took an in-house web-application and tidied it’s output up. What was once a pile of tag-soup junk is now clean, accessible, sentatically correct, valid HTML. This was relatively easy, once I’d got my head around the way the app works. It’s quite nice now – but it sits on our intranet, so you’ll never get to see it unless you happen to work in the same place I do.

Then I got cocky. I thought If I can do that for that app, why can’t I do it for this ever so slightly more complex one?

So I started looking at the source files. Holy crap! It looks like the code was written by a gibbon jumping up and down on the keyboard! As soon as I started trying to tidy it up, things got squelchy. Undo, undo undo! Put it back exactly how it was! Phew. Making that one look nice is going to be an interesting experience.

Still, I think it’s worth doing, even if it’s “just” an in-house intranet application. Your in-house customers are just as important as the outside ones. If you don’t keep them happy, the products and services that they produce for outside customers won’t be as good. Keeping the interface and the code clean and accessible means that it’ll be nicer for user’s to interact with. What’s more, it’ll be easier for the next set of programmers and designers to work with next time around.

8 Responses to “The mess they left behind”

1. matt

“sentatically” did you make that word up?

I have to do that similar type of activity to work’s stuff, and, oh I can;t be arsed, as no one will care and they don’t pay me enough for me to waste my efforts, I shall use them for good, not evil :)

2. Owen

“If you don’t keep them happy, the products and services that they produce for outside customers won’t be as good”

I like your holistic approach dude. It beats the “Ah, screw ’em” approach I had when I worked there. That said, I had been there longer than you and was significantly more jaded!

3. Olly

Matt – it’s like “semantically” but superior in every way.

Owen – You do know that managers are meant to set a good example to their underlings, right? ;-)

4. Matt Hampel

Ah — it turns out those gibbons jump to some kind of rhythm — you just need to listen very hard! Someone should write a book that decodes the different types of code mangling (“Ah-ha, this is a Chomsky variant so he does his error checking in a separate module!”)

I agree 100% that those kind of rewrites are worth it, especially if you need to make functionality changes in the future.

5. Owen

Olly – I knew that you took no notice of me anyway so figured it wouldn’t matter!

6. Olly

Did somebody say something? ;-)

7. MikeD

There are too many apostrophes in that posting. HTH HAND.

8. Olly

So there are. This is what happens when you post at 11:31pm.