James Mayes

Things I’ve learnt about software development

In Personal Development, Software Development on March 4, 2010 at 4:59 pm

Time for me to attempt my first blog post of any significance, having launched only an introduction so far.  As you may know, I’ve been heavily involved in the launch of a new business recently.  A core part of this has been creation of an online application which allows us to take recruitment information into the Twitterverse, whilst also helping candidates connect with said information.

Whilst I’ve always harboured an interest in technology, this experience has brought me closer to the development cycle than anything I’ve done since playing with Pascal code on a VMS cluster at university. Coding wasn’t my strong point then and not much has changed there.  Apparently though, there have been major changes in methods…

I’d heard terms like Agile Development and Iterative Approach being thrown around by project managers, heard some getting very excited by the speed of change while other expressed frustration at scope-creep and cost over-run.  Well, we’ve spent the last six months working with a development team who are entirely iterative in their approach. For what it’s worth, I learnt a few things that I feel have wider application….

  • Ensure you all have the same understanding of the methodology you’ll be using.  We had the same big-picture understanding, but less cohesion at more detailed levels. An extra few hours really focussed on that in the early days would have saved time and tension later on.
  • Collaborate and demand in equal measures.  Collaborate by whatever means necessary to ensure everyone has the knowledge and tools to deliver. Remember who the customer is, demand satisfaction.
  • Sometimes, it’s good to go retro. You can talk for hours about layout of a page, but nothing beats a quick sketch, pencil on paper.  In a distributed environment, it’s then straight back up to date  – use a smartphone to distribute the images if needed. I guess the same would work for process design, data capture forms, etc.

There’s plenty more besides these, but while my blog’s finding its feet, I’ll hold some inspiration back for future posts. As always, feedback and comments are welcome – here, via Twitter …. or however you prefer.


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