Side projects: every passionate developer has more than they can count – some finished, some sadly strewn aside.

In today’s hustle culture, there’s this idea that all side projects must be meaningful, must be some path to monetization and your next big business idea. While some may subscribe to this idea, and some may not, most developers have something in common: abandoned side projects. I’d like to write an ode to these poor, forgotten projects.

Even if built just for fun, the abandoned side project is a project where all work has completely ceased, and the developer looks at the repository with a wistful sigh every time they stumble across it. Maybe it was a great idea; maybe it was a terrible idea. Either way, the important thing is, the developer learned something while building that side project. Maybe they learned they don’t like a particular framework or stack. Maybe they learned the idea was too complex to be reasonably built as a side project. Maybe they learned they have less time to dedicate to the project than they thought. No matter what the reason, the abandoned side project is not a failure, in the traditional sense – it’s a successful example of iteration.

Life, like development, is built on iteration; you must fail, and pivot, more often than you succeed to learn anything at all. The abandoned side project fits neatly into this concept; considered “failures” in the process, they’re really just stepping stones. Maybe the developer took what they learned with their abandoned project, and built a later, more successful project. Maybe the developer reorganized their time in such a way to make room for side projects in the future, or let go of the incessant need to do, the incessant need to build, and instead replaced it with an appreciation for their full life as a whole. Maybe I’m getting too specific…

Anyways, I just wanted to say thank you to all the projects I’ve abandoned over the years. I hope this post will help you think fondly of your abandoned projects, too.

Thanks for reading!