Shaun Rashid
Web Developer

A New Side Project

One of the jokes in software development is the number of side projects that developers start but never finish. They exist in many forms such as forgotten code folders and repositories, random ideas and notes documented in text files, and unused domain names purchased on a whim.

I have a bunch of these sitting around. This site is a form of one of those side projects. I had many plans for this site redesign including the visual redesign, building it to be performant and accessible to all users, as well as regularly writing and documenting the process. Ten months later and I've barely accomplished anything with it.

And that's okay.

For me, the finished product is rarely the goal of a side project. I use them as tools of experimentation and exploration to learn new and try new things. The benefits of my side projects come from the learnings of each step along the way, no matter how many steps I take or what kind of things I do in those steps (coding, design, planning, testing, etc). At whatever point I stop in the process, I'm better to some degree than before I started.

I've had some time off in the past few weeks and started playing BattleTech, a turn-based strategy game that's based on a table-top RPG where players assemble a unit of giant robots called BattleMechs and complete missions and fight against other players. I've really enjoyed the game even though I'm not that great at it (which is normal for me when it comes to computer games) and while playing, my imagination took over. I started to think "what if there was a site that allowed players to show off their units and 'mechs?".

So I started designing and building one. I don't really care if there is a site like that exists already. The idea provides me with an opportunity to learn and practice outside of the constraints/environment of my day-to-day job.

I try to latch onto these flashes of inspiration whenever I come across them. In the best case scenario, I can build out the project to completion. In the worst case scenario, I put some thought into the idea, exercises a few skills, improve myself a little, and the site ends up as another punchline of the side project joke.

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