Codin’ Fool II: Software on Steroids

There’s a good chance this will be among the stranger posts I’ve made to this blog. You see, I’ve just come off a drug-induced coding frenzy, the likes of which I’ve never seen before.

Now, I should explain that before you get the wrong idea. A few weeks ago I was diagnosed with sudden hearing loss (SHL), and my doctor prescribed a steroid called prednisone to treat it. Among prednisone’s side effects is an abundance of manic energy and a decreased need for sleep – in other words, it was made for programmers. I’ve heard of people feverishly redecorating their houses while taking the stuff, but in my case I re-architected FeedDemon.

It started quite innocently. I was running into problems integrating with NewsGator’s synchronization API due to the way I designed FeedDemon. FeedDemon works on a per-group basis, so that only feeds in the active channel group (folder) are displayed and updated. I chose this approach to keep memory and bandwidth consumption low, and also to avoid overwhelming users with a huge list of feeds, but unfortunately it has limited the degree of synchronization that FeedDemon can have with other RSS readers.

My plan was to change this in FeedDemon 2.0 several months from now, but I found myself with such a wealth of energy that I decided to expend some it by seeing how involved it would be to make the switch now. At first I made a few small changes, but before long I was coding like a madman, creating new classes, ripping out old code and building new components at a frenzied pace.

My first day of coding like this ended at 5:30AM. My second day started two hours later. By the end of the third day I had written well over 7,000 lines of new code and reworked thousands more. Stepping back at the end of it all and looking at what I had done reminded me of that scene in The Shining – you know the one, where Shelley Duvall’s character discovers that her husband has filled an entire manuscript with the phrase “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” In my case, though, rather than write something nonsensical, I actually wrote some pretty fine code.

Because the changes touched upon so many areas of FeedDemon, I wasn’t able to compile the code for the entire three days. So when I was done, I took a deep breath and tried compiling it. I’d love to say it worked right off the bat, but the truth is I had to make a few tweaks before it would compile without error. However, once it compiled it ran smoothly – I had completely recoded FeedDemon’s foundation in three days, and I’ll be damned if it didn’t work!

At this point I haven’t decided whether all these changes will be included in the upcoming FeedDemon 1.6 – I’ll need to do a whole lot of testing before I decide that – but the end result of this coding marathon is that FeedDemon will have a slew of oft-requested features. In the short term the UI will continue to work on a per-group basis, so that you only view feeds in the active group, but feeds in inactive groups will update in the background. In addition, these changes will make it much easier to offer the folder-based UI that so many have asked for – expect to see this sooner than planned!

Oh, and here’s how the story ends. A few weeks ago I was interviewed by Inc. Magazine for an article about software support, and they decided to send out a photographer to snap my picture. The photographer showed up at the tail end of the third day of coding, at which point I was long overdue for some serious sleep. I was so tired that I soon found smiling to be far too much effort, so I just kind of sat there like a mannequin and waited for it to end. So…if you happen to catch the article, think back to this post when you see the picture :)

23 thoughts on “Codin’ Fool II: Software on Steroids

  1. pretty funny. I’d wondered why you hadn’t posted to the blog in a few days… now we know. ;-)
    so, are you going to apply your mania to any new projects any time soon?

  2. Fantastic news! If you need any alpha testers, do let me know. I’m glad to run through FD Project X from front to back if you need it :)

  3. Haha what a great post :)
    Glad to see you are having, umm, fun! while having a loss of hearing.
    Can’t wait to see FD 1.6
    Also, sorry for being OT, when do we get out NewsGator subscriptions?

  4. I need to find out how to get some of that drug. I need to rewrite a system and rewrite it fast.
    That would be great!

  5. So, speaking of newsgator synchronization, what’s the status of that in the short-term? Is it available now (in non-optimal form) or is that still coming? (Still a little cnfused about the whole merger thing)

  6. hehehe great post :)
    This makes me really, really happy… I was having my doubts about whether we would ever get the folder view! Not seeing it in 1.x is dissapointing, but understandable – you can’t give us everything in free upgrades ;)
    If you decide not to release this in 1.6 I’ll gladly help test it :D

  7. Morgan, sorry it’s taken so long to make the free NewsGator subscription available – the wait should only be a couple of weeks longer now.
    Molly, there is minimal NewsGator synchronization in FD1.5, but it’s being completely rewritten for the upcoming FD1.6.

  8. “In addition, these changes will make it much easier to offer the folder-based UI that so many have asked for – expect to see this sooner than planned!”
    Nurse! More drugs for Mr. Bradbury ;)

  9. Geek News Central Podcast #74 2005-06-17

    Great lineup of information for you tonight. Lot’s of men have been submitting entries for the the contest and we…

  10. Good lord! The first few paragraphs made me think I was reading my boyfriend’s blog. You programmers sure have a lot of scary things in common. :-)

  11. Programmierer auf Steroiden

    Steroide, lecker!Was dabei rauskommt, wenn man einen Programmierer mit Drogen ausstopft, kann man ganz angenehm bei FeedDemon-Entwickler Nick Bradbury hier lesen. Sehr lustig, da bekommt man glatt Lust….

  12. Thanks for the reply Nick.
    I wasn’t complaining about how long it was taking though, just wondering :)

  13. if it was really for 2.0, then why not just release the next version as 2.0?

  14. Blimey, that stuff sounds like fun. Can you take another bunch and attack TopStyle next please ;-)

  15. Ah prednisone. I know it well, have had to take it a couple times recently for my back. Does a great job killing inflammation for sure. I can remember trying to sllep and just giving up, but man o man was I tired after a few days! :)

  16. Just wondering: will this mean memory and bandwidth consumption go up, and users will now be overwhelmed with a huge list of feeds? :)

  17. Programmierer auf Steroiden

    Ich habe gerade den Blogeintrag von Nick Bradbury gelesen. Nick Bradbury ist der Entwickler von FeedDemon. Dieser hatte einen Hösturz und bekam deswegen das Medikament Prednisone. Dieses wiederrum verhalf ihm dazu den FeeedDemaon 2.0 in ungeahnter Schnel

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