Ugly reminders

In my “last post about family pricing”… I mentioned that I modified my PayPal scripts for backend order processing to support family packs, but I left out that the whole system is a hack. A hack that processes a nice chunk of money, but a hack nonetheless. Hard-coded PayPal buttons and coupons, PHP that would make even newbie web developers cringe, too few lines of code to really be taken seriously.

I refactored it a few months ago, but kept some ugliness in there to remind myself that I should move to a “mature store solution”… Sometimes we build systems that are flawed from the start, and it’s wasted effort to invest time into something that will be replaced. Instead, let the thing stand out like a sore thumb.

It’s a complement to doing things simply and taking shortcuts even when it’s tempting to overengineer and build the perfect system.

This ugliness trick works for other things too. For example, the Wii Transfer product page is /software/wiitransfer/ instead of just /wiitransfer. I gave this URL more thought and second-guessing than it deserved, and every time I type /software/ or see the link I cringe a little. But I did it for a purpose: one day I hope to sell or promote things other than software. For example, when I registered I was working on an independent animated film which I planned to sell on DVD direct to customers. (I’ve had that shelved for years now, though, as I’ve recently discovered there are only 24 hours in a day.)

Others will say that you shouldn’t mix such different projects under the same brand, and that makes a lot of sense. But I also know it to be true that if you want to build a strong blog following, you should stick to one subject and become a respected voice in that field, and I didn’t do that either. I made a conscious decision with my personal blog to keep it loose and cover several different things that I am passionate about, and because of that I’ll likely never have tens of thousands of readers as other popular Mac development blogs have.

So maybe one day Riverfold will sell something other than Mac software. When that time comes, it won’t matter what the URLs are, but until then, the /software/ URL won’t let me ever forget that I have other things in mind.

Manton Reece @manton