And so ends the year of working on Form Tools!

Last Monday I returned to my previous job as a web developer at Central1 Credit Union. It’s really great to be back – awesome to see everyone again – and great timing too: they’re in the midst of developing of a large scale JS framework, which is going to comprise the bulk of my time over the coming months. After a few days of staring blankly at code and gulping pots of coffee I now have a fairly decent understanding of the architecture. I love the underlying pub/sub pattern being used for module communication and I fully intend to use it in some of my own projects.

But where does all this leave Form Tools? That’s the question I’ve been puzzling over for the last few months.

I’m going to be taking a step back from the project for the next couple of years. I very much hope to return to it (and I’ll never be completely absent) but I need a break. Speaking candidly, the whole idea of charging for certain components never sat well with me. Call me a hippie, call me a commie, but I’m simply not interested in charging for my work. Form Tools was a hobby and converting it into a business made sense at the time, but now that it’s “out there” I found my interest waning more and more. It very much became a job. So now I’m back at full time work, I’m going to be focusing my spare time on other projects, starting with my generatedata.com revamp, which you can find on github here.

But there are other reasons for this decision. Form Tools isn’t exactly cutting edge and I’ve been feeling more and more it’s been keeping me back these last couple of years. Beyond re-architecting the script once or twice, re-thinking the UI, and the fun problems that that raised, the vast bulk of the work has simply adding functionality. Technologically-speaking, it’s pretty hum-drum and I found myself getting more and more anxious to branch out into new territory.

Plus, I may be a PHP developer but… I’m a self-hating one. I kind of hate PHP! :-) It’s terrific for smaller scripts – I mean, unequivocally good – but for anything larger… yikes! As Tchaikovsky once said of his own music “my seams always show”. I’ve been converting generatedata.com over to object oriented and holy cow, do PHP’s seams ever show. It’s a functional language with OO hideously grafted upon it. And it’s only getting worse over time (have you checked out namespaces? What the hell…?!). When I was just working with other OO libraries I didn’t mind it so much, but now I’m developing in it I find myself saying urrrrgh a lot. Definitely time to branch out.

Anyway, I *do* plan on returning to Form Tools, but not for some time. I want to check out Python, Ruby and Node; I want to finish the generatedata.com revamp; I want to completely revise this site with a responsive layout and a different backend. And when I do return to FT, there’s gonna be a whole lotta changes.

@vancouverben