Sunday, December 2, 2012

arch experience is overrated cf GTD, instrumentation, tools...

See also other blog posts --

// "in the initial dev stage, instrumentation is my #1 design goal".
// http://bigblog.tanbin.com/2010/09/2-important-categories-of-software.html

Going out on a limb, I'd say that in high-pace projects GTD (Getting Things Done) is more important than many things which are supposed to be more important.

GTD is more important than ... integrating deep domain knowledge insight into the system. I think such domain knowledge can sometimes be valuable. It can help dev team avoid wasting time on "the wrong things".

GTD is more important than ... quality of code. For a few months at least, the only guy looking at the code is the original author.

GTD is more important than ... "quality of design", which is seldom well-defined.

GTD is more important than ... being nice to others. Many times other people can tolerate a bit of personality if you can GTD. However, you must not offend the people who matter.

GTD is more important than ... impressive presentations that address many real customer pains. A user may die for a guy who "understands my pains", but when it is time to deliver, selling/understanding is an irrelevant distraction.

GTD is more important than ... in-depth knowledge of the language or of a software platform/product. Such knowledge is more important than GTD during interviews though. Threading, data structure...

GTD is more important than ... uncovering the root casue of (intermittent) problems/errors/surprises -- the Toyota drill-down root-cause investigation. Regex engine creator may need to fully characterise every unexpected behavior; AutomateTellerMachine error probably deserve a drill-down investigation but in enterprise apps drill-down investigation simply takes too much time. We developers are paid to build a usable tool, not a fully-understood tool. Live with ambiguity and move on.

GTD is more important than ... adding an important test to the automated test suite. Sure that mistake we just found may happen again so we really appreciate adding that test, but in reality, most high-pace environments don't have an automated test suite. If we are lucky enough to have documented manual test plan, then yes add it, but such a plan seldom is comprehensive, so after a while people won't follow it religiously. So in reality we just hope developers learn the lesson and avoid making the same mistake. If they do, then we just need someone who can GTD. Any system to incorporate such heard-learned lesson is likely an imperfect system, and whoever investing in such a system is often wasting his/her time.  If a GTD guy doesn't bother with that system, he will still be respected and loved by manager and users. Basically, any long-term investment is unappreciated. GTD is all about short-term results. This is the reality of quality control in fast-paced teams.

GTD is more important than ... adding meaningful error messages. Anyone debugging the system would love the guy who added the meaningful error message, but he is an unsung hero. Manager love the guy who GTD fast. Code quality is invisible and therefore ignored and unrewarded.

To achieve GTD, you must solve tech problems. Tech problems could (occasionally) call for architectural perspective, but less than tool knowledge, debugging experience, or low-level system insight.

In defense of architects, architectural track record is more important in sales contexts, including selling to internal clients and business users.

I should probably get input from Raja, Xiao An, Yi Hai ...

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