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Erster Beitrag:
vor 4 Jahren, 4 Monaten
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vor 4 Jahren, 4 Monaten
Beteiligte Autoren:
GuenterP, Michael Drechsel, Fabrice Harari, stefan.kern, Arie, Thomas Brauner, lewi, Al, Charles U. Schneiter

"Backup" for a Freelancer

Startbeitrag von Michael Drechsel am 23.10.2013 16:05


this is the question for all Freelancers who make (WD) Software Projects for clients:

How do you handle your own backup ?

The background is:

I am the only one developer in our company. I get more and more projects. My boss ask me what happens if a stone falls down on my head ...

Ok, I could try to find another freelancer in germany and make a contract with him. But the projects often are very specific and it needs time to get the knowledge. So he could not continue the work so smoothly. At he other hand the projects are not so big that we could use 2 ore more developers ...

Any comments are welcome ...


Hi Michael,
this is the daily prayer of many IT-bosses: dear God, don't let anything bad happen to my programmers, save them from falling roof-shindles, save them from the flu and let them come home safely! And back to work tomorrow morning, of course!

Any remote 'backup' is pure nonsense, because, as you're saying yourself, another programmer will not be able to understand what's going on within your projects. Every now and then somebody turns up here and asks for finishing / expanding an existing Wx-project. Over the years, I've come to the point to refuse all of such 'offers'! We've learnt our lessons. We can make a new project from ground up, but we will not use that '99% finished' project, no, we will not even touch it!

Solution / recommendation: try to understand Agile Programming http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agile_Softwareentwicklung and Extreme Programming http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extreme_Programming in order to be able to build a team. There's nothing like a free lunch neither for you nor for your boss. He should think about hiring a second programmer and after many, many hours, if you and he are lucky there will be a second man who can take over if need arises. Ok, that smells to you because this will make you replaceable .. but .. as I said, there's nothing like a free lunch.

von GuenterP - am 23.10.2013 16:41
Hi Michael

it's funny how often these days I completely disagree with guenter... With the utmost respect for his opinions, of course, but completely and totally disagree. It's maybe because we work in very different sectors of activity...

Anyway, MY business is to do exactly what Guenter deemed as impossible and is now refusing to do. I do consulting work for other software companies, and as such, spend my time digging into somebody else code... So I know it is perfectly possible, if not always easy...

So my advise to you would be to get a list of developers offering this kind of services, and there are now a few available in English language... If you need one in German language, that will reduce the available pool...

What kind of contract you have with him or them is entirely up to you...
- just a basic agreement of help if need be/in case of emergency
- punctual help on your projects so that he/they have an idea what you are working on
- contract for source backup at their place, so that if YOU/your company/your hardware have a problem, they can fill in
- ...

Clearly, any time they have to fill in, the ride will NOT be as smooth as when you do the work day after day, but we are talking about emergency/crisis management here, not everyday occurrence...

Hope this help

von Fabrice Harari - am 23.10.2013 18:16
Hello Michael

I am in your situation.
The most important thing for you is to realise that eventually your code will be maintained by someone else and to prepare your code for that day.

Make detailed comments at every point where the logic may be obscure.
Include comments in the notes field of the data files and over the years as I add fields to existing files I document why they are being added.
In the calls to other windows and procedures with parameters I always include the parameter use explanation in the calling code so I can see how the values I am sending are being used
Be consistent in your naming conventions.
Make your code very straightforward and not too clever.
Use self explanatory field names and variable names so the code is as readable as possible.

There is also the question of the original design and methodology. All my software is data driven and based on transactions with the database being as normalised as practical.

You have a huge advantage in the preparation of your project for someone else to maintain because you can make it happen without having to make sure that all your rules and methods are being followed by other programmers on the project.


von Al - am 23.10.2013 20:52
Hi Fabrice,

just an add-on. We have 3 decades of experience with this type of job. We know what it is all about. And we know how half-finished programs / projects will look like - in reality.

Of course, there WOULD be an exception: if the programmer writes the code in anticipation of his/her early departure. 90% clear-to-read technical documentation (requirements, project and code docs) and end-user documentation and 10% code or something like that. But you'll never find something like that. At least we didn't.

There are a few points which nearly guarantee for NOT running into a 90/10 program: 1 - generally, programmers don't like to make themselves obsolete. Well-structured and well-documented code invites the company to hire a less expensive person. At least so they think. 2 - programs sticking to the 90/10-rule tend to be slow in progress. In-house programming with a single programmer at disposition doesn't work like that. 3 - often you will find what I call 'funny basic decisions'. Single hand programmers mostly do not adhere to the KISS http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KISS_principle principles, everyone tries to put his 'great' ideas into that project he and his boss is dreaming of. Funny projects, funny databases, funny libraries, funny ideas about user friendly (ha!) interfaces.

In real world you're being presented with a project that's mainly junk, but the company's boss believes it to be 90% finished. So the programmer said at least when s/he left for new adventures. At least. Since the budget for the project has been eaten up three times already, there's no way to get sensible funding for such a repair mission. The program is bug-infested and often you will not see those bugs at a first glance. They will crawl out of the project one by one. No one will pay for that adequately.

There are good reasons why 'programming' shouldn't be done using single hand programmers. First of all, it is not 'programming' alone, that's only a small part of the job. It's project management and at least, it's http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waterfall_model plus full documentation of it and ongoing maintainence. This is the reason why the making of software should be in the hands of a team, not of a single person.

They say that a huge portion of initially started projects never sees the day to be put in production mode. There are percentages of 60 - 80% mentioned in literature. All of these projects die somewhere in the process. There are many reasons. The worst of all reasons is that the programmer / project manager / boss found out that the programm will never do what it is supposed to do because the basic design is unrepairably flawed. That may refer to the requirements, to the tools used, the type of programming, whatever. They will not tell you because those who knew did leave the company.

von GuenterP - am 24.10.2013 03:24

thx for your comments.

Make the code readable, try to find a second programmer and so on are nice, but thats nothing whats me or my boss let us sleep better.

It seems that all Freelancer are doing a job with high risc for the clients.

But why exist so many of them ?

Its better to learn a "public" language like C# because there a many programmers at the market ?

If I really looking for a german speaking windev programmer as my "backup" I probably didn´t find any ....

von Michael Drechsel - am 24.10.2013 10:13
Hi Guenter

me too (30 years of experience).. And I agree with you on that point: very often, the code is a piece of crap :-)

I do not agree with the idea that it's done on purpose to make the developer unfirable... I think that there is no need to look for bad intentions when stupidity can account for the bad level of coding...

In any case, while it's true that some customers are not ready to pay for the repairs, I have never seen a case where repairs were NOT possible, so I have never have to reject such a project... I just give my price. If the customer agrees with it, we are fine, if not, HE will reject the project.

And if they agree with my price and conditions, they WILL pay for each bug that comes out crawling, as each one will be perfectly documented and proven as coming from their original code by me.

I am not saying it's an easy job, of course, I'm saying it's doable and I'm doing it at one degree or another all the time... I'm also not saying that ALL codes out there are badly written, fortunately for me... I do agree though that comments are most of the time missing in action.

Hi Michael

>>Make the code readable, try to find a second programmer and so on are nice, but that's nothing whats me or my boss let us sleep better.
In that case I'm afraid that nothing will make you sleep better... Either you have the money to hire a second developer, train him, and have less risks, or you have the solutions we described. I don't see what else you could find.

>>It seems that all Freelancer are doing a job with high risc for the clients.
Not really... Big companies are going belly up too (Remember Borland, anybody?). And when they do, millions of companies are in the same bad situation your customers would be... In need to find another solution. Now, if you make sure that your sources are available to them in case of default from you/your company, then your customers have MORE insurance than with a big company who will NEVER do that. I may have forgotten to mention in my description of possibilities that often a contract is made between the 3 parties: your company, your backup company AND your customer, so that they are reassured that they have a solution.

>>But why exist so many of them ?
Because they are agile and can do what big companies cannot... Answer quickly to a need, be near their customer and really help them evolve. With a big company, your customer will have to adapt to their system... You are adapting to your customers system...

>>Its better to learn a "public" language like C# because there a many programmers at the market ?
Not really... There may be more programmers, but your development time and cost to customer will increase dramatically, making you way less interesting for them. And you will still have the problem of finding a GOOD contractor for your backup

>>If I really looking for a German speaking windev programmer as my "backup" I probably didn´t find any ....
I doubt that... There are many developers in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, etc that are both using windev and speaking German... I know that for a fact as I have personally several customers in that demographics.

So do not despair... Guenter is right in saying that there is no such thing as a free meal... However, I'm pretty sure that you can find a meal in your price range that will ease some of your pain

Best regards

von Fabrice Harari - am 24.10.2013 12:31
Thx Fabrice for the description ...

Unfortunately I can´t see here many german developers ... and if you really work with wx you can´t ignore this forum ...

von Michael Drechsel - am 24.10.2013 13:46
Hi Michael

you would be surprised at the number of customers of mine from everywhere in the world (and I have customers on every continents BUT Antarctica :-) ) that I have NEVER seen here...

It doesn't mean they are not reading the forum, of course, but my customers' list and this forum have a very marginal common ground

Best regards

von Fabrice Harari - am 24.10.2013 21:21
Hi Michael, there ARE lots of German-speaking Wx-developers! At least, if I'm looking at our list of customers from Germany & Austria & Switzerland. Companies with 50+ PC Soft products to be upgraded each year among them. There is a German distributor who, for sure, has quite a few German & Austrian customers themselves. Additionally, these really big companies (see the testimonials) are buying their products/upgrades drectly from PC Soft. Just as an uneducated guess - I may be dead wrong here - I'd estimate that there are at least 500 German-speaking companies with 1500 active developers. Currently, PC Soft is making German Wx-v18-brochures, a first one for WinDev Mobile can be seen here http://www.windev.com/pcsoft/documentations.html - the downmost PDF on that page.

However. My personal recommendation is: don't look for a ready-to-use programmer but go for a young wo/man who isn't mentally deformed by working for another software company. S/he should have a software-related education, be cooperative and willing to learn. VB.NET and/or C# are tought in schools and universities anyway, this should be a good starting point for learning and understanding WinDev and WebDev. To my experience, such a person should be productive within a month. Let her/him go through the tutorials. If s/he isn't able to make a well-done small programm (look at quality, user interface, help and in-project-documentation!) at the end of the first month, just fire her/him, such a person wouldn't learn it in years. If all went well then you have to make her/him acquainted with your projects, explain what they're supposed to do, what the initial requirements have been, what the big plan has been. Explain your style of programming in detail, so the newcomer should be able to 'read' and understand your existing projects. This process is not much longer than to introduce a seasoned Wx-programmer but has the benefit of a lower starting salary. In addition, such a person wouldn't leave the company as fast as one of those brilliant 'hacker-style' guys. Look for over-all discipline, coming late in the morning and leaving early in the afternoon is not a sign of good relations between employee and employer.

von GuenterP - am 25.10.2013 07:09
Hi Guenter,

>I'd estimate that there are at least 500 German-speaking companies with 1500 active >developers. Currently, PC Soft is making German Wx-v18-brochures, a first one for >WinDev Mobile can be seen here http://www.windev.com/pcsoft/documentations.html - >the downmost PDF on that page.

Can´t believe that. No (german) forum, no local developer conference and so on, no one article in german pc-magazines.

In my FoxPro Time we had a yearly conference in Frankfurt with speakers from Germany and the US. And Foxpro was is that time the black sheep of the Microsoft products ...

BTW, the german wd brochure is funny. German words and french girls ...:-)

von Michael Drechsel - am 25.10.2013 10:22
Hi Michael,
it's just a first step. Many others will follow and ultimately, we'll arrange for a German developers conference! Next step is the WinDev brochure, after that we'll have the WebDev brochure and the "what's new in v19 ?" brochure and so on ... just give us some time. Thank you!

German Frauleins are better in that brochures than French girls? Are you sure? Ok, let's try, maybe we can do something about it ...


von GuenterP - am 25.10.2013 11:30
Hi (german) Folks,
there is a German forum.: http://www.windevforum.de/

It is there still quite quiet because all german developers speaking here. ;-)
I come from Hamburg and developed for over 2 years with WinDev.


von lewi - am 25.10.2013 15:05
Hi Lewi,

I know this forum and the "silence" :-)

I´m from Berlin and use windev since 7 years ...

von Michael Drechsel - am 26.10.2013 08:21
@ Guenter: Jo mei a so a fesches Dirndl is scho a schöne Sach ge ! :xcool:
[Sorry, couldn't resist but with a youtube Filmchen as a teaser...]

I am looking very much forward to some German ressources being made - a developers meeting somewhere in the German speaking part of Europe would be very helpful!

Yeah re German speaking developers, there must be quite a few of 'em. Me (Switzerland calling here) included, of course :cheers:

Re the german speaking message board I do have somehwat mixed feelings though: On one hand this is very helpful for developers not in command of the english language. But on the other hand, it serves to dilute know how a bit. Or one is prepared to work in both message boards - if there are not too many around, this is feasible. A possible solution around this would perhaps be to integrate a German speaking section in this message board here?

Re the issue on topic: Since in todays more and more CYA (cover your ass) culture of doing business, I get this very same question asked quite often. My solution is along the same lines as Fabrice mentions above: I do have the sources of my bigger apps deposited with a notary whose address is made known to my bigger customers. Instructions say [not in these exact words, mind you :rp: ] that in the event of me getting under a piano falling from the fifth floor, my notary is allowed to hand out these sources against signing an NDA. Thanks Fabrice for the argumentational help re big software firms who went belly up - I will add these to my sales chest :spos:


von Charles U. Schneiter - am 26.10.2013 10:15
Why do they always refer to car crashes, falling pianos and so on?
I rather use "what if I win the lottery and take of for the Bahamas"

von Arie - am 26.10.2013 14:24
Arie Mars
Why do they always refer to car crashes, falling pianos and so on?
I rather use "what if I win the lottery and take of for the Bahamas"

Hi Arie, of course, that sounds much better to you and me.
But I believe that your customers will feel like having been hit by a falling piano ...

von GuenterP - am 26.10.2013 15:19
Hi there,

may be there can be an "outing" of german wx developers .....
I am close to Stuttgart

Best Regards


von stefan.kern - am 26.10.2013 21:02
Hi ,

there are many german programmers! The problem is, that the most of them don´t use the german forum, because this forum is more useable.
Maybe it´s a godd idea, if all the german programmers identify themselves.
In the control center/options/locations there you can mark your location. So all the other peaople can see the german programmers (like me :-) )

(close to Saarbrücken)

von Thomas Brauner - am 27.10.2013 12:09
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