During my last year of MSc. studies, I was part-time employed on the university project. The project was related to my diploma thesis, and my task was to create a data-mining software and run experiments using this software.
I've finished the software, run the experiments in it, successfully graduated, and finished the studies. It was a huge success for me and for the university as the diploma thesis was awarded in a student's competitions, being top 10 among 2000 diploma theses.
Despite this success, the software I developed is not production-ready, rather just a prototype. For my experiments I considered only happy-case scenarios and if there are some unexpected inputs from the user/from connected systems/uploaded CSV files do not match specification, etc., the software crashes and cannot be used.
My supervisor wants to use the software usually twice a year. When he runs into some troubles with it, he emails me to deploy fixes so that he can run the experiments. In the first year and a half after I finished the project and the software, I did it three times. Now he is asking again to debug the problems in the software and fix them. I do not want to do it, because:
- I have no time for it because of very time-consuming projects in my current job.
- I am working in a different industry now and during two years I forgot many things from the software development and specific solutions I used.
- I already lost accesses to the production environment at the university, so I am not able to deploy fixes.
- I feel stressed out by the requests. As this was a prototype I did not set up logging, and I usually struggle to find and fix the error cause. I sometimes even cannot reproduce the errors locally and then I really do not know how to fix it.
I wrote these reasons to him, but he insists that I should still help them with it. He offered me they will pay me again some hour rate to support the software, get production accesses again, etc. But the money is no matter for me; I just do not want to continue with supporting the tool.
I feel there was some misunderstanding from their side about what are difference between diploma-thesis prototype and production-ready software. We never agreed officially that I would support it. We just once talked about that I would support it "for some time if some problems occurs", which I believe I did (three bugfixes and approximately three months of work during a year and a half after I graduated).
Is there a way how to politely refuse while still keeping good relationship with the supervisor as he is always very nice and polite?
I was thinking to offer him a one- or two-day workshop for some of the current university employees where we could go through the code on GitHub, and I would officially hand it over to the current employee. But it would not be a solution for him, as there are only a handful of postgraduate students in their group, and they are not programmers, so they cannot take the software over.
And I feel bad about writing to him: “I do not have a solution, I do not want to continue with that, and I do not care that you cannot use the software any more...”