Proglogging: The Developer's Detective Toolkitby@offcode
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Proglogging: The Developer's Detective Toolkit

by Adam SchmidegOctober 9th, 2023
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For Marco, a software developer based in San Francisco, the mornings typically began with a steaming cup of coffee and a scroll through the latest tech and literary news.

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The Lost Manuscript of Sherlock Holmes

In an astonishing discovery that has sent ripples through the literary world, a previously unknown manuscript of a Sherlock Holmes story has been unearthed. Tucked away in a dusty attic of a Victorian-era home in London’s historic Bloomsbury district, the manuscript offers not just an untold tale of the world’s most famous detective but also reveals a methodological tool used in solving the case—a structured approach that Dr. John Watson refers to as the “Inquiry Index.”

The Discovery

The manuscript came to light during a routine estate sale. The last living relative of the home’s original owners, a distant cousin of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, had no inkling of the treasure that lay hidden in a century-old steamer trunk. It was only when an appraiser, specialized in antique books, happened upon the stack of yellowed papers tied neatly with a twine that the monumental significance of the find was understood.

The Inquiry Index

What sets this manuscript apart from other Holmes stories is Dr. Watson’s meticulous documentation of their investigative process using a method he dubs the “Inquiry Index.” It appears as though Watson employed this structured form of journaling to catalog observations, questions, and deductions in an organized manner. The index is not just a storytelling device but an integral part of the narrative, guiding Holmes and Watson through a maze of complex clues and red herrings.

The “Inquiry Index” is laid out with great attention to detail, employing specific verbs to initiate each entry, serving as both action points and reflections. Watson’s notes within the manuscript suggest that he viewed the “Inquiry Index” as a universal tool, adaptable to various forms of inquiry, not merely confined to detective work.

The Implications

Scholars and fans alike are intrigued by this new facet of the Holmesian canon. Dr. Eleanor Hughes, a prominent Victorian literature expert, remarked, “The Inquiry Index adds a whole new layer to the Holmes-Watson dynamic. It’s not just a method for solving cases; it’s a window into the disciplined minds that made them the ultimate detective duo.”

In addition to sparking renewed academic interest, the “Inquiry Index” has caught the attention of professionals in diverse fields, ranging from investigative journalism to software development, as a timeless method for structured problem-solving.

What’s Next?

As efforts are underway to authenticate the manuscript and, if confirmed genuine, to publish it for the world to see, one thing is certain: the “Inquiry Index” promises to be a subject of discussion and adaptation for years to come. What was once a Victorian-era tool for solving London’s most perplexing mysteries may soon find itself at the center of 21st-century dialogues on analytical thinking and methodological rigor.

Indeed, the discovery of this lost Sherlock Holmes manuscript and its “Inquiry Index” not only enriches our understanding of literary history but also offers a timeless tool for inquiry, proving once again that some methods, like legendary detectives, are immortal.

As scholars and literary enthusiasts eagerly await the publication of the newly discovered Sherlock Holmes manuscript, we are granted an exclusive sneak peek into the narrative. A tale rich in suspense and cerebral challenge, it highlights a structured method of investigation referred to as the “Inquiry Index” by Dr. John Watson. This innovative approach to unraveling mysteries offers a fascinating glimpse into the disciplined minds behind London’s most celebrated detective duo. Without further ado, we present to you an excerpt from this riveting lost tale of Sherlock Holmes and the role of the “Inquiry Index” in solving one of Victorian London’s most perplexing cases.

The Case of the Inquiry Index

London’s smoggy streets were abuzz with horse carriages and pedestrians, each going about their day, each with a story to tell. For Dr. John Watson, however, the day began with a peculiar introduction to something called “Inquiry Index” by an old friend from the war. “It’s a way to manage the chaos, John,” his friend had said, handing him a journal. Watson, always eager to find better ways to chronicle his adventures with the enigmatic Sherlock Holmes, thought it might be an interesting experiment.

The familiar chime of the Baker Street apartment rang through the room, signaling the arrival of a new client and, inevitably, a new case. A distraught lady recounted a series of thefts across London – thefts that were seemingly unrelated but eerily meticulous.

As Holmes paced the room, drawing on his pipe, eyes distant in thought, Watson took the opportunity to begin his Inquiry Index journey.

Start: “The Meticulous Thefts of London.”

Watson penned down the initial details, the date, the client’s name, and her story. Holmes, with his usual flair, began making rapid observations, deducing facts about the client, her situation, and the nature of the thefts.

Note: “All thefts occurred at dusk. No signs of forced entry. Each stolen item had a history, a story.”

Holmes outlined a plan to visit the sites of the thefts.

Do: “Visit Lord Harrington’s mansion, the first site of theft.”

As they traversed the lavish halls of Lord Harrington’s mansion and later, the dimly lit alleys of East London, Watson meticulously recorded their findings. Every peculiar footprint, every whispered rumor from the streets, found its way into Watson’s Inquiry Index.

Done: The duo concluded their visits, having gathered a wealth of information, but the puzzle pieces didn’t quite fit.

Holmes, in a rare moment, seemed flustered. The threads of the case dangled just out of reach of his brilliant mind. Watson, journal in hand, suggested, “Perhaps we should review our findings?”

They sat by the fireplace, the journal spread open.

Question: “Why only items with a history? What’s the connection?”

Holmes’ fingers drummed the armrest as Watson pondered aloud.

Maybe: “Could the thief be trying to rewrite history? Or perhaps reclaim it?”

The night wore on, and the warm glow of the fireplace cast dancing shadows on the walls. The “Maybe” hypothesis led them down a trail of old family feuds, lost inheritances, and London’s hidden history.

The breakthrough came at dawn. A connection, previously overlooked, now glared at them from the pages of the Inquiry Index. The stolen items all traced back to a single event in London’s past: The Great Fire.

With renewed vigor, Holmes and Watson pursued the lead, which culminated in a thrilling chase across London’s rooftops and narrow alleys. The thief, as it turned out, was a descendant of a family that had lost everything in the fire and was trying to reclaim lost artifacts to restore his family’s honor.

Highlight: Watson, reflecting on their adventure, marked the realization of the connection to The Great Fire as the turning point in their case.

Back in the cozy confines of Baker Street, a sense of accomplishment filled the air. Holmes, pouring over the Inquiry Index, remarked, “This method of yours, Watson, has its merits.”

Watson smiled, penning down the last entry for the night. The Inquiry Index, initially an experiment, had now become an indispensable part of their adventures. As London slept, the tales of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, structured and reflective, awaited their next chapter.

Sherlock Holmes meets Proglogging

For Marco, a software developer based in San Francisco, the mornings typically began with a steaming cup of coffee and a scroll through the latest tech and literary news. An ardent fan of Sherlock Holmes, his eyes widened when he saw the headline about the newly discovered manuscript featuring a unique method called the “Inquiry Index.” As he delved into the excerpt, he found himself intrigued not just by the unraveling mystery but by Dr. John Watson’s systematic approach to solving it.

The “Inquiry Index,” with its verb-led entries and structured reflection, immediately struck a chord with Marco. In his world of endless code, debugging sessions, and tight deadlines, the chaos often felt overwhelming. Could a Victorian-era method offer a solution to 21st-century software development challenges?

Determined to find out, Marco decided to adapt the “Inquiry Index” into his daily workflow. As he pondered a more modern name that would resonate with today’s tech-savvy professionals, the term “Proglogging” came to mind—a portmanteau of ‘programming’ and ‘logging.’

Armed with this new tool, Marco embarked on his next project: implementing a dark mode feature for a mobile application. He began by laying out his Proglogging entries.

The Dark Mode

Estimate: 4 hours to implement dark mode toggle.

Start: Dark Mode Feature.

Note: Best practices suggest using CSS variables and a JavaScript toggle for implementing dark mode.

Do: Define CSS root variables for light theme.


Do: Create corresponding dark mode CSS variables.


Do: Implement JS toggle function with localStorage for theme preference.


Question: How to smoothly transition between modes?

Note: Use CSS transitions on color properties.

Do: Implement smooth transition between light and dark mode.


Add: Test feature on various browsers for compatibility.

Do: Position and style the dark mode toggle button in the top-right corner.


Break: 10-minute stretch break.

Do: Test the toggle in the local environment.

Note: Toggle works, but there’s a slight delay in icon change.

Maybe: Optimize icon loading or use SVG.

Do: Replace icons with SVG to resolve the delay.


Do: Push changes to staging for team review.


Highlight: Replacing the icons with SVG to resolve the delay was a pivotal move. This change ensured a smooth user experience and highlighted the importance of performance optimization.

Estimate: Adjusted from 4 hours to 3 hours. Feature implementation was smoother than anticipated.

Spreading the word

As he progressed, Marco found that Proglogging offered not just a structured to-do list but a nuanced record of his thought process, challenges, and achievements. The “Do” and “Done” entries provided a clear framework for action, while “Note” and “Question” allowed for reflections and queries that might otherwise be lost in the fast-paced development cycle.

Impressed by how Proglogging enhanced his focus and productivity, Marco couldn’t keep it to himself. During a team meeting, he introduced the method, citing its intriguing origins in a Sherlock Holmes story. To demonstrate its utility, he walked them through his recent dark mode project, showcasing how each Proglogging entry helped him navigate technical challenges and decision-making loops.

Initially skeptical, his colleagues couldn’t ignore the evident success of the dark mode feature and Marco’s newfound enthusiasm. By the end of the week, Proglogging had become the team’s go-to method for task management, and it wasn’t long before other departments took notice.

The Proglogging Method Unveiled

Seeing the growing interest in his Proglogging method, Marco decided to take the time to articulate its core components and benefits for his team and, eventually, for a broader audience. Below is an overview of the Proglogging method:


Proglogging offers a structured approach to task management and reflection. Borrowing from traditional logging and journaling practices, it emphasizes the use of specific verbs to initiate each entry, ensuring clarity and purpose in documentation.

Key Components

  • Single Entry Focus: Proglogging captures thoughts one entry at a time, aiding clarity and reducing overwhelm.
  • Verb-led Instructions: Each entry commences with a designated verb, establishing the entry’s intent, be it an action, observation, or milestone.

Core Verbs

  • Note: Documents observations, insights, or general information.
  • Do: Specifies an imminent action or task.
  • Done: Marks the completion of the task from the preceding “Do” entry.
  • Question: Flags uncertainties or areas needing exploration.
  • Maybe: Proposes potential solutions or hypotheses for a noted concern.
  • Add: Introduces a future task or action.
  • Highlight: Emphasizes significant achievements or challenges.
  • Estimate: Forecasts the time or effort a task might entail.
  • Start: Signals the beginning of a particular task or project.
  • Break: Marks pauses or intervals taken in the workflow.


While foundational in its structure, Proglogging is designed for adaptability. Tailoring to align with individual workflows and preferences is encouraged.


  • Structured Thought: The verb-led approach fosters organized thinking.
  • Clarity: Tasks, observations, and reflections are clearly demarcated.
  • Adaptability: Applicable across various professional scenarios, from software development to academic research.
  • Reflection: Encourages introspection and learning from experiences.

Usage & Notes

  • Begin with a notebook or digital tool. Craft an entry starting with a chosen verb and follow its intent.
  • Highlight: Add a Highlight when you feel a significant achievement has been reached or when something doesn’t function as anticipated.
  • After extended work sessions, review all “Done” entries. Choose one or two as a Highlight to encapsulate the session’s essence.
  • Locate all pending tasks by scanning the “Add” entries.
  • The core verbs are a foundation. Feel free to expand upon or modify them as per individual needs. Over time, users develop a rhythm and style attuned to their workflow.

The Legacy Continues

From the gas-lit streets of Victorian London to the LED glow of contemporary computer screens, the journey of Dr. Watson’s ‘Inquiry Index’ to Marco’s Proglogging underlines the enduring power of structured thinking. Dr. Watson once hoped his method would prove useful to future generations, and indeed it has found its way into modern problem-solving. Both then and now, the method serves as a testament to human ingenuity, proving that good ideas have no expiration date.

Disclaimer*: Oh, how I wish this story were true! But alas, the tale you read of a "newly discovered Sherlock Holmes manuscript" is pure fiction, spun from the depths of my imagination. As far as anyone knows, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle hasn't sent us any posthumous surprises.*

[Next story in the series: When AI Joins the Dev Team]