Our Loss of a Citizen Developer

Discussion created by eric on Jan 15, 2019
Latest reply on Jan 16, 2019 by eric

I'm still saddened by the loss of a citizen developer from our campus last week, who was only in his forties and leaves behind a wife and two elementary-school-aged children. Please, my friends, take care of your heart and your health. It's probably very peculiar and nerdy of me, but below is all I had to write in memory of him (while keeping his name anonymous here).


My name is Eric, and I'm a systems analyst and programmer at the same institution as A—. Although he worked only a few dozen feet from where I sit, and he belonged to the group of departments I was assigned to support, I'm grieving now that I didn't meet with him more and get to know him as much as I would have liked. There's a very good reason for our lack of association, though: He didn't need me.


As far as I know, A— was never a programmer or a systems analyst, and creating and maintaining innovative workplace applications wasn't even a small part of his job description, and yet I can see from a legacy of applications he left behind that he cared a lot about investing his time, his mind, his efforts, and his creativity into improving processes and results for himself and for everyone he worked with. Although he developed solutions on the same workplace innovation platform that I specialize in, he might have only asked me a question once or twice in passing (maybe only to be polite). Without my help he developed dozens and dozens of impressively scripted forms, layouts, lists, reports, and letters, all on his limited spare time, even though he could have easily said, "That's not my job," and handed it over to someone else like me to figure out.


And how do we know A—'s extra work was useful? Because the solutions he developed became so important and integral to his colleagues' work and his departments' objectives, that they all insisted years ago that I upload all his solutions to a server where they can all access them concurrently—where they still use them as of this day, even though he hasn't worked in those departments for years now. It's quite extraordinary and very rare to receive these kinds of solutions from a non-programmer, but I suppose that's because A— himself was a quite extraordinary and very rare kind of person, proficient in many things. As little as we interacted, I don't think I'll ever be able to forget him.


I attached screenshots that are only a small sample of the forms and layouts A— designed and maintained. Although the solutions I received from him have no technical usefulness outside of Student Affairs, if his family would like to have any copies of those apps he created and maintained with his own hands, feel free to ask. They would be able to open them and run them on Windows, Mac, and iOS.

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