Friday, October 28, 2005

Continuous Care Vs Initial Design

In his paper titled Continuous Care Vs. Initial Design, Robert Martin expresses his growing concern regarding the lack of awareness about creating maintainable systems. Quite like I mentioned in my first blog entry 'How do you measure Quality?', he points out that we must strive to finish a task right (for everyone) as opposed to just finishing it. The article goes on to describe why systems, no matter how well designed, can be reduced to a rotting carcass simply due to negligence. Every time a design is changed as a result of requirements changing in ways that the initial design did not anticipate, new and unplanned dependencies can be introduced between the modules if the changes are made without carefully considering the system's existing state. The latter half of the paper suggests the application of Agile Methodologies to counter such 'rotting'.

Hmm... we all seem to agree to that. So, what could we be looking at wrong this time? :)
Good old CONTEXT! ;)

You see, Martin talks of designing in the small (Agile). It's about how initial designs can never keep up with changing requirements. What I'm hinting at is that all the talk of Continuous Care is applicable to new development. Projects being planned now, to be developed tomorrow!

The whole thrust of the paper is towards changing engineering attitudes, about changing Methodologies. You can't change your methodology once the plane's taken off! Besides, no volume of care could ever fix a screwed up initial design. Martin says that , according to the Agile methodology, designs must be built to change and new requirements can change the design fundamentally too. But, how much 'care' do you put in before it's officially called a redesign!

With regards to Agile development, well I'm not a really big fan of it but I don't particularly think it's evil. The thing about the Agile methodology is that it's just plain simple misunderstood. Most uninformed people think being Agile is about getting it done in the simplest possible way in the shortest possible time. Well, I suggest they either read up on Agile development or com up with their own independent manifesto!

Personally, I'm a big upfront design guy. I find safety in sitting calmly and applying 'care'ful foresight to come up with a flexible, extensible design (I know, I know... how does the customer care! Customer's suck!!). That's why I think being open minded is more important than being Agile.

Sidenote: Here's a few more options, take your pick...

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