Iterative development is a pretty basic concept. You just develop iteratively… Hmm pretty sure i read once that you shouldn’t use the word you’re defining in the definition. Lets try again.
Iterative development is the practice of developing software in small defined chunks of time. This is in contrast with the old-school method of starting a project and working on it over the course of months or years in one long chunk, or iteration.
Lets just dig in to the meat of why it’s important. Imagine you wanted to get a house built. You line up a contractor who has experience building houses. You tell him you want a 1200sq ft house with lots of windows and a double garage. He asks you what layout you want, where should the windows be, do you want a deck, what colors for the interior and exterior etc. You answer him by saying “I don’t know, I hired you because you’re good at building houses, so you just make sure it’s 1200sq ft and has lots of windows”. Can you see where this is going?
Six months later he calls you and says the house is done. You walk in and while the house is impressive, it’s not how you had envisioned it, and with the amount you are paying him, you want it to look how you want. Unfortunately now that all the work is already done, it will cost a LOT more to make changes.
Software is the same way, if somebody comes and says to you “I want a system that does X” but they don’t have any details as to how it should look or work, it would be foolhardy to believe that they are going to just be happy with whatever you deliver to them.
Iterative development helps with this by allowing you to break up the project in to small iterations, the smaller the better, ideally 1 or 2 weeks. This way you can show what you have accomplished during each iteration to the customer and see what they think, and get their feedback on what they would like changed. Even if they customer had no idea what they wanted ahead of time, you can bet that they will after they see what you have built. The sooner you get that feedback from them, the cheaper it will be to ensure the project turns out how they want.
One of the other big advantages of dividing work up in to short iterations is that it’s a lot easier to estimate what you can get done in 2 weeks than in 2 months. Once you have the project divided up in those iterations it also becomes a lot easier to see if you’re falling behind or not as well.
That should give you a basic idea of some of the advantage iterative development provides. I’ll go in to more detail in future posts of some of the other advantages.
by: Chris Dagenais
The Prairie Developer Conference is the first of it’s kind in Saskatchewan, a 2 day event covering a wide range of topics including things such as cloud technologies, agile development practices, database performance tuning, etc.
I submitted three proposals for sessions to the conference and two of them were accepted!
- Agile Development Practices, brief introduction and how they help your business
- Iterative Development, How it works, Why it works, Who it helps.
I’m very excited to get the chance to present on these topics to a reasonably large group of people from around my own area, as well as raising the profile of Point2 in Regina.
By: Chris D
Many interesting women I know are incredible geeks, and many interesting geeks I know are incredible women! But then, I may be biased, cuz I’m a girl, and yes, I’m a geek too!
The truth shall set you free!
What solidified the fact that I am, indeed, a geek was my first invitation to a Saskatoon Girl Geek Dinner. That was it! I had no choice but to acknowledge my long-denied nerddom. I missed SGGD’s first meetup, but I have attended every Saskatoon Girl Geek Dinner since.
Last Tuesday, Saskatoon’s Girl Geek Dinners held its 4th event since its local inception in early summer, 2008. The dinner was held at Zu’s stylin’ new digs on Pacific Avenue. They were awesome hosts!
Organized by Melanie Cey, Brittany Melnyk and Devon McGeary, the GGD agenda included dinner, a presentation, a workshop, and an impromptu tour of Zu’s new facility.
The turnout was great! Not surprisingly, the ratio of women to men was a complete reversal of what we see in the workplace. Instead of 30:1 men to women, the ratio was 1:30+ men to women.
“I love my team, but…”
After dinner and socializing, Melanie got the program started by explaining the Girl Geek Dinner concept to attendees. You can read about GGD here. Essentially, Melanie acknowledged that working in a still male-dominated field of study offers few or no female role models within the workplace. Let’s face it: sometimes men and women exist on different planes and as a result life can be frustrating. But we don’t want to give up, fellas… we love what we do! and we want to keep doing it for as long as it makes us happy.
Ginger Koolick spoke to the group on becoming a consultant. While outlining logistical processes of becoming self-employed, Ginger’s story had a notably female voice, and included not just business sense, but personal philosophy for leading a fulfilling life. It was interesting to hear that despite the sudden nature of her decision to go into business for herself, Ginger actually assembled a comprehensive business plan. I hope in the future she returns to the group to present retrospectives on her initial plan.
Flexing our Agile muscles…
Devon McGeary ended the presentation layer of our event with a hands-on exercise called “Blitz Planning”, an exercise which many of us at Point2 (if not all of us) have participated in to some degree within the past few months. In a nutshell, the session emphasized a quick and collaborative approach to building a project’s stories and tasks, illustrating and revealing sequences, dependencies, moving parts, and necessary expertise. (I know I’m omitting objectives, so if the idea sounds interesting, you should read up on it starting here.)
Just before the evening ended, Zu gals gave us tours of their newly renovated space on Pacific Avenue. It is a beautiful old building, and the decor is fresh and groovy. And truly, who wouldn’t love a fireplace in their lunchroom!!!
The story has yet to be written… GGDs are cooperatives which focus on science and technology, and of course, women working in those fields. The Saskatoon chapter is new and growing, and certainly, there are many women (and men) who have much to offer the Saskatoon Girl Geek Dinner community. Maybe you are one of them??
By: Karen Martens
Day one at the Agile 2009 conference in Chicago has more or less wrapped up. Sessions did not start until late in the morning so it gave the Point2 crew a bit of time to go out for breakfast, and to figure out where each of us had to be.
My first session was Developing Agile Leaders and Teams: A Developmental & Transformational Path as presented by fellow Canuck Gilles Brouillette. He spoke about the psychological theory behind the evolution of leaders in our society. It was interesting to see how 90% of the population hits a leadership ceiling, while only 10% are able to break through it.
After lunch I had the pleasure of seeing Robert C. Martin speak about Craftsmanship in software development. This guy is a pro and it was nice to see that Point2 is already doing most of what he is preaching. An interesting moment was when he asked people to raise their hands based on how many unit tests their team had. Mine stayed up until the “over 4000″ mark, and one guy kept his up stating they had 20,000. Martin thought that was awesome, then asked how long they took to run. The guy responded, “all day.”
Giving and Receiving Effective Feedback by Elizabeth Keogh was acceptable, but I think Point2 is further ahead on some of the feedback work we’ve been practicing internally. I personally think that the feedback session proposal we made to Agile 2009 would have been stronger.
My final session for the day was 10 Temptations of an Agile Coach (new or experienced). Stevie Borne did a nice job of exposing many pitfalls that Agile leaders can succumb to, while providing many tips to help recover from, and avoid them.
The day wrapped up with an Ice Breaker event which included a few minor events, company booths, munchies, and “beverages”. I had the opportunity to speak to a few people in the crowd, and it was interesting to see people in different stages of Agile adoption. It was also pretty cool to be asked for advice on how they could make the transition easier, and what types of processes they should embrace. Seems like we’re doing the right things back at home.