graphicpush

Thoughts on branding, design, writing and life by Kevin Potts. Established 2003.

Like Eating a Box of Nails

Every designer knows that inheriting someone else’s work is no fun, especially in the world of web development. But turn the table on yourself, and make sure your own projects are ready to handed off, whether you like it or not.

There’s nothing more fun than inheriting a web development project from a previous designer. And when I say “fun,” I mean it in the sense that “eating a box of nails is fun.”

I recently was asked to update a site that another designer put together with a new feature, some visual tweaks and a couple corrections. No big problem, except here are a few highlights of the bucket of “fun” that was delivered on my doorstep:

  • The site was in Flash. Seriously, why the hell would you use this nasty, slow-loading, crappy program (in only 12 FPS, too!) for just a brochure site? The end product took too long to launch, is ugly and makes any updates — even text — a pain in the ass.
  • She left all her source files on the server. I mean all her source files — comps, old versions, bad code, etc. While this was good for me for making updates, it sure made finding the right FLA document a massive pain. (The client was also not happy about 150 MB of crap on his server.)
  • The Flash library was a clusterfuck. Nothing was named, nothing was organized, nothing was in folders.
  • She created PDFs that were nothing more than low-rez JPGs saved as PDF from Photoshop. So the one advantage the PDF format has — vector text and graphics — was thrown out the window. Making content changes required not only retyping the text, but trying to figure out what font was used.
  • The designer tried to create a contact form (launching a new HTML page from Flash, naturally), nicked my code from a different site I designed for the client, and totally broke everything. Instead of porting a script to a different server, she tried to reference the script on my original server (which didn’t work), then edited the original script to make it work with her form, breaking my original form on my site without ever getting her own to work. If that made sense to you, it will also make sense why I took up hard liquor.

Here’s the interesting twist to the story: the designer did not know she was going to get fired. The client came to me, asked me to change the password for the FTP server — locking her out — and then wanted me to make changes.

Here are the lessons for today, kids:

  1. If you suck, you will get fired. You may not get any warning. She certainly didn’t.
  2. Always prepare a project for leaving your hands. No one else is going to understand if “site_absolutefinal_ver3b_tweak_20050607.swf” is really the production final or not.
  3. Make a backup before you dick around with other people’s code. Believe it or not, there’s at least one designer out there who doesn’t understand this.

commentary + criticism

Shane

wrote the following on Wednesday December 7, 2005

Sounds like oodles of fun.

Sean Mitchell

wrote the following on Wednesday December 7, 2005

I feel your pain man… I feel your pain.

TM

wrote the following on Wednesday December 7, 2005

I know plenty of developers that do this sort of thing on purpose to ensure job security – or to really piss of the person that replaces them. Maybe she sucked or maybe she succeded in pissing you off!

Chris Griffin

wrote the following on Wednesday December 7, 2005

The newest version of Acrobat Pro has the ability to read text from an image within a PDF. I don’t if its in previous versions but I know it is in the newest version.

I know this because I had the same problem, I had to pull text out of a PDF that was just an image and I stumbled upon this feature in Acrobat. It’s not perfect but it recognized all the text except one sentence. I was very impressed with this feature.

Chris Griffin

wrote the following on Wednesday December 7, 2005

To comment on what TM said,

If you do this type of thing for job security then either you suck and you know it or you’re an asshole. That’s just bad form and one might get a little satisfaction out of it but in the long run you are just burning bridges and it will bite you in the ass one day.

Kevin

wrote the following on Thursday December 8, 2005

I don’t think she was trying to be an asshole, although I’ve seen/heard other designers brag about rendering fonts to outlines, merging shapes, flattening layers and other nonsense because they were pissed off at their client. It’s hard to think of an easier way to burn a bridge and tarnish your reputation than to destroy everything on your way out the door.

And if someone performs this shit on purpose for only “job security,” they clearly need to find a new line of work.

TM

wrote the following on Thursday December 15, 2005

Did I miss something? Did I say I did this? If I was the type of developer that did this do you think I would bother reading about innovations in design and development on a site like this? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Thanks for your speculation though jackass.

Kevin

wrote the following on Thursday December 15, 2005

TM, I don’t think Chris meant you specifically; I think he was speaking in generalities (which might not have been clear since he used the word “you”). I think it was clear from your first post that you don’t do this sort of thing.

Ryan

wrote the following on Tuesday January 24, 2006

I cam across this blog and couldnt help but post on this. I am in the process right now of going through another ‘developers’ code to make changes & updates…what a mess…I cant beleive people like that even get hired!