Exploration Through Example

Example-driven development, Agile testing, context-driven testing, Agile programming, Ruby, and other things of interest to Brian Marick
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Wed, 19 Apr 2006

How to be a product director

For a current client, I've decided to write up a short (for me) guide titled "How to be a Product Director." If you have suggestions for a "further reading" section, please send them to me. Thanks.

I will put the finished product up on the web.

## Posted at 07:39 in category /agile [permalink] [top]

Pair programming with users

An interesting story about pairing with users to implement new stories. I found it intriguing because it repeats some of my hobbyhorses from a different perspective (that of an APL programmer). Notice that he gives up on English in favor of examples. Notice also the adaptation of a programming language into a more-ubiquitous cross-domain language. (This made easier by the close fit APL starts out with.)

The part of the story about moving processing in from a distant site reminds me of what I've started calling a service-oriented development strategy. The idea is to forget about the program as an object but rather think of the project team as providing a repetitive service to the user base. In the company described in the link, someone—probably the product director—would funnel claims to process into the team. One person on the team would be an expert in manually processing claims. She'd be a bottleneck, so she'd enlist other available people—the programmers—to handle the simpler claims. Programmers being lazy, they'd quickly write code to make repetitive parts of the task go away. They'd also (and thereby) learn the domain. As they did, they could handle more complex claims, which would lead to more capable code. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Now, the truly lazy service person won't want to even type information into the program; she'll want the users to do it themselves. That means seducing the users into trading the ease of just forwarding a claim to the team for the benefit of higher throughput. So now—and only now—the programmers have to focus on making the UI usable by normal humans. First, they'll make it good enough for those few technology enthusiasts among the users. Then they'll improve it enough for the pragmatists and even the conservatives. (Thus, the standard high-tech adoption lifecycle is followed within a single project.)

At some point, you run out of claims that the product director thinks should be automated. So you stop and send the programmers off to do something else.

I've not convinced anyone to actually try this. I probably never will.

(Note: This strategy doesn't really match the story, since the users do nothing but claims processing. It's probably better suited to situations where the software is a necessary but non-central part of the job.)

One immediate objection is that this will lead to a lousy, patched-on-after-the-fact UI. For what it's worth, Jeff Patton (Mr. Agile Usability) doesn't think that's necessarily so. In fact, when I talked to him about it, he said that committing to a UI too early can hamper the project if there's not been time yet to incrementally make a decent model of the users' world(s).

## Posted at 07:35 in category /links [permalink] [top]

About Brian Marick
I consult mainly on Agile software development, with a special focus on how testing fits in.

Contact me here: marick@exampler.com.




Agile Testing Directions
Tests and examples
Technology-facing programmer support
Business-facing team support
Business-facing product critiques
Technology-facing product critiques
Testers on agile projects

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Working your way out of the automated GUI testing tarpit
  1. Three ways of writing the same test
  2. A test should deduce its setup path
  3. Convert the suite one failure at a time
  4. You should be able to get to any page in one step
  5. Extract fast tests about single pages
  6. Link checking without clicking on links
  7. Workflow tests remain GUI tests
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Design-Driven Test-Driven Design
Creating a test
Making it (barely) run
Views and presenters appear
Hooking up the real GUI


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