The hardest part of our jobs

22 Dec 2016 -


This post is a follow up on:

There became a point over the past two years where it dawned on me that I was a good coder. It sounds like I’m talking out of my ass but it’s true, I noticed when asked to solve complex problems and found the solution came really easy to me. I guess after over 9 years I get Drupal.

The problem with this is that I’m still not a great coder. I’m getting there but I find the problems I have are not code related at all, they’re other skills that I’ve yet to fully grasp.

The tweet above came from the following (paraphrased) issue:

Create a ctools context plugin to show homepage content

The real issue is only marginally longer and not much more helpful. The estimate on this ticket is 3 hours. But there’s a problem, it’s not a problem with the issue text (it sort of is), it’s a problem with how my brain works. Here’s how my brain interpreted it:

  • ctools - a cool Drupal module that provides a load of extra functionality
  • context plugin - not sure what this is but I can read documentation and figure it out
  • homepage content - I’ve just created this so that’s cool

So in theory I have all the prerequisites to building this functionality. In reality I don’t, I can build a ctools context plugin (I did) but the wider scope is missing. This isn’t a problem with the ticket, I was the one who said the description is fine and I’d be able to figure it out.

The real problem is in my head. Conceptually I have no idea how the components fit together, how does part A effect part B, how do I achieve the end goal. This is just the start of my problems. I spent 4 hours on this issue, I built a ctool context plugin, it works but doesn’t do anything useful but it’s there. I spent the hours writing basic code, reading blog posts on things vaugely related and researching.

I wasted time because I was too scared of admitting I have no idea what I’m doing.

The thing I realise now is that while I understand and can figure out the basic concepts if the grander scheme isn’t there it’s useless. I should have asked for help, I should have admitted that I didn’t know how the end result fit together.

I truly believe that the hardest part of our job is admitting we can’t do something. I’m learning, maybe in another 9 years I’ll get there.