or, “The Essay Your Teacher Never Assigned for the Last Day of School.

There’s a t-shirt I’d like to get for Christmas. It says, “I’m a web developer. I solve problems you didn’t know you had in ways you can’t understand.”

I spent a lot of time over the last month working on a little project I inherited last year called Arras.

Arras is a WordPress theme.

Already, I should back up. WordPress is software that runs websites. As of 2015, something like 28% of websites are built using WordPress.

All those sites, even though they’re built using the same basic software, look different. That’s because when you build a website with WordPress, you get to pick your own theme. Like when you go to the ice cream stand, it’s all ice cream. Once you have your basic ice cream, then you add the unique combination of ingredients that make rum raisin different from fudge praelene crunch. Those extra ingredients that give the website its “flavor” make up the theme.

So Arras, a WordPress theme, is a package of code ingredients.

It’s a very old (in internet years) package of ingredients. It was originally designed by a guy named Melvin Lee, but in 2012 he gave up working on it. Which was fine. It had probably run it’s course.

Except that one of my clients was using Arras as the theme for her website. The theme started doing funny things and the site didn’t look right. So I started fixing it bit by bit.

In hindsight, I should have recommended she just swap out the Arras theme for something more up-to-date. That would have been the smart thing to do. But instead, I did something rash. I picked up the theme as a project and started making the fixes available to everyone and anyone.

It turned out to be a much bigger project than I had bargained for. The more I fixed, the more fixes needed fixing. The rabbit hole went pretty deep. And then people started asking for new features.

That’s the story. Last Friday I published a revised and updated version. It’s the culmination of 18 months of fixing — and it’s still not really done. Software is the sort of thing that never really gets done. There’s always something to update, something to fix or something to add.

So 18 months, and it’s still not perfect. But, hey, it works. And I get to say, “I shipped that.” Which feels good.

And if you want to see it in action, you can. Here.