Working software

February 17 2009

.. over comprehensive documentation.

yes, that’s one of the very clear sentences in the Agile Manifesto. but there’s more.

last tuesday i attended a presentation on Agile and XP Gabriele gave at the local Linux User Group in Cremona. the session was very good, people interested, a lot of discussion, me too, bringing my last two years experience. but please, always trust a geek saying “go on as long as you like, we can stay here ’till late night”: he’s serious!

Gabriele is a great speaker, i had never seen any of his presentations before. amazingly, in three hours and half, he just scratched the surface of common topics such as testing and refactoring, instead focusing on planning and (re)estimating.

i learned a lot too. mainly, my attention was caught by this sentence: “our main goal is not to develope software satisfying business requirements, our goal is to develope software our customer can gather value from”. in my view, this is the essence of any Agile development process, and, in fact, is also stated as the first principle in the manifesto too: “Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software” (emphasis mine).

i spent a lot of time studying, learning, using and adjusting user stories acceptance tools, and helping developers understand how much “do the thing right” and “do the right thing” are different. but, even then, having all the acceptance criteria clear stated, is our job to verify them? do our customer pay us to do whatever he ask to?

definitively not. we get money to deliver software someone can make money with, or do something less costly with. or maybe, software doing something not feasible doing by hand. choose one. anyway, our job is to let our customer achieve his goals using our product.

for me, that’s really a context shift, and a daily challenge. i’m always focused on the internals of a system’s design, it’s architecture, how pieces work together. i live in an iperuranio where objects talk each other; where ideas born, live and evolve, and finally get real as working software. i’ve never paid much attention to what software is used for, i’ve always considered it a detail.

what a mistake!

from now on, contract i’ve signed as a developer is:

i’m allowed to imagine, design and construct the best (and simplest) system i can think of, as long as my goal is to deliver value to the customer.

working software over working acceptance tests!

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