In Leon's country, most government institutions are legally obligated to disclose certain data on the internet — their structure, responsibility, public competitions, general announcements, and so on. Leon worked for a company that did government work exclusively, and during a lull in their normal projects, they noticed an unfilled niche — software designed specifically to make sharing of this information easy.

Management prepared the specs with dozens of citations referencing government-produced documents that outlined the rigid formatting requirements. Boiling it all down, though, it wasn't so bad. Just some document storage and retrieval, basic usage logging, and two-level security: users, who can read everything, and admins, who can edit everything. Business logic was simple, because all changes would be done manually by an admin.

With a clear path ahead and solid specs, initial estimates were that the project would be done in six months. The general attitude was that it'd get done sooner, but it'd be nice to have some breathing room.

And so production began. It had a bit of a rocky start, as there was some difficulty finding subcontractors to do the work. They had a false start with one company, but the next company they found would save them. Sadly, the next team failed too, but they had found a third company that seemed capable of rescuing the rescue team. This new team could do the backend, and they had some good contacts for people that could do the front end. At this point, the project was behind schedule three months. A huge setback, but not a showstopper.

Whenever Leon's company called for status reports, the contractors reported that they were doing well, but needed more money. The next two months were occupied by brutal contract renegociations and some slow progress from the contractors. The backend was starting to come together, but the frontend was still a clunky mess of basic HTML.

Finally, the contractors found a graphic designer, who took three weeks to finish base design and images. Huzzah, back on track!

Except that the designer then needed some help. He assembled a team of four freelancers (of which Leon was a member) to create 40+ web pages. They'd use the Corel mockups that the designer had produced and do miscellaneous frontend work, like updating styles and fixing some broken JavaScript. The back end, at this point, was done, and it was expected that all of these pages would be done in the remaining 5 days to meet the original deadline.

The team worked for literally four days and four nights, occasionally taking a break for a power nap or, more often, a Red Bull. Finally, they'd finished. Sure, it had a crazy table-based layout that had nested tables in the double digits. Sure, it was buggy as hell. Sure, some of the JavaScript was broken. But if you're willing to stretch your interpretation of what "done" means, it was done. The following weekend, the team members that hadn't died gone insane spent the weekend doing some final bug fixes before the big release on the following Monday.

So, in the end, the project was released on time, but not within budget or necessarily done right. All Leon's hard work and days and nights that had probably cost him years of his life weren't without reward, though. No, he didn't get a bonus. No, he didn't get time off (after all, he was needed for bug fixes from version 1.0). He got something better — credit on the web site! In the form of a comment embedded in a .gif file.

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