Long before WordPress, Drupal and any of the other ‘go-to’ CMS’s were used for larger enterprise sites, back when we had to educate clients on what a blog was and back when Web shops routinely pitched their own proprietary content management systems, I wrote my own CMS. Ok, it was a team effort with my partners at Project BIG fish and we branded this product ‘Fin’. Over the years we released 4 major versions and it went on to run many sites.

Sites Were to be Replaced Every Two Years

That is what we told our clients anyway. Beyond the obvious sales cycle there was some reasoning behind this view that had little to do with profit. We figured at the time that technology and design trends were changing so fast that any site had a shelf life of about 2 years before looking dated. I don’t think we were wrong, it was just a combination of the economy and the fact that some of these jobs were quite expensive custom gigs, replacement after two years was just not practical.

Two Years? It Has Been 8 (Maybe 9)

I got a call today from old client who was looking for Fin support. A call I was happy to take as I actually still provide support for a few of these ‘Fin’ sites, you know the ones that we assumed would have been replaced more than a half decade ago. I still hold some nostalgia for these systems as they hold literally thousands of lines of code that I personally wrote and devoted many years of my life to (hows that for drama?).

My Unintended Legacy

Getting this call today got me thinking. These sites were never intended to last this long and rarely do developers give thought to the life of their code. Shortcuts are taken, quick fixes applied all the time to get projects up and running before deadline or launch… One never stops to think that this might still be around in 8 years. I certainly was not thinking that when I built these systems so long ago.

Though built on legacy operating systems, using outdated platforms, languages and frameworks these systems have faired well in the test of time. Definitely a point of professional pride, though I may give further thought to the lifespan of my code going forward.