Welcome!

Java IoT Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Yeshim Deniz, Mehdi Daoudi

Related Topics: Java IoT

Java IoT: Article

Devils, Demos, Details, and Demons

We should be careful for what we wish for

When a product a colleague worked on recently shipped its first generally available release, the event was accompanied by a marketing fanfare of podcasts, press releases, and conference trips to beautiful cities with boxes of presentation materials, branded lapel pins, and flashing fridge magnets. My colleague gave a hugely successful presentation to customers and was rather taken aback afterwards when she was approached by a member of her company's marking team who asked why it looked as though the development team hadn't done that much to the product since the last presentation six months previously. She explained that the earlier presentation was riddled with hard-coded data, mocked-up screens, and, for the most part, was only done so that the developers and architects could show a test audience some ideas and concepts to garner reaction and feedback to help shape the finished product. In the intervening six months between the proof-of-concept demos and the final deliverable, a huge amount of work had taken place. Not just in actually coding the final code drop, but in making it conform to accessibility requirements; internationalization, performance and threading issues; security, tracing and error diagnostics; not to mention building a large suite of unit tests and a deep set of regression functional tests.

The problem with software is that most people's perception of an application is simply the user interface: the buttons, list boxes, and data that sit on the glass. To all but those who are themselves developers, there is little or no appreciation of the huge amount of grunt work required to make things actually work, some of which is often extremely tricky and requires sharp innovative developers, not to mention time and money.

This lack of appreciation for what goes into a finished product is something an old boss of mine used to call the "spreadsheet mentality." At the time we were tending to software contracts to create software that had to crunch large amounts of non-relational insurance data using batch programs. Our nemeses were the jocks who, having just managed to master an Excel pivot table with over 20 rows of data, had no appreciation of the scalability or network client/server issues and would heckle our meetings with cries of "Fools, I can do this all with my spreadsheet and database CD that came free inside my muesli box this morning."

This concept of people who don't appreciate software construction yet are able to participate in the decision-making process manifests itself in many dangerous forms at all levels of an organization - from the bean counter who lays off a development team with years of skill and experience in order to outsource the project to a far-flung colony to save a few dollars, to the manager who thinks that software quality is achieved by suffocating the development team with ridiculous processes and time-wasting status reports that do nothing more than fulfil the input requirement to fuel anachronistic and irrelevant reporting chains or absurd audit requirements.

Two powerful techniques that can be adopted to protect a project's expectations from its users are to use paper prototypes, thus avoiding any confusion whatsoever that anything remotely close to the finished product is being discussed, and to deliver small incremental pieces of functionality in an iterative agile manner to keep the heartbeat of the feedback loop between the user and development team healthy and current so the amount of code per deliverable becomes smaller and more finely finessed. In addition, the practice of chirping "ship it" to a developer who has shown a piece of clearly unfinished code should be banned in case anyone from marketing is in the room taking minutes. As with all things in life, we should be careful for what we wish for.

More Stories By Joe Winchester

Joe Winchester, Editor-in-Chief of Java Developer's Journal, was formerly JDJ's longtime Desktop Technologies Editor and is a software developer working on development tools for IBM in Hursley, UK.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


IoT & Smart Cities Stories
At CloudEXPO Silicon Valley, June 24-26, 2019, Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with expanded DevOpsSUMMIT and FinTechEXPO programs within the DXWorldEXPO agenda. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of business. Only 12% still survive. Similar percentages are found throug...
Druva is the global leader in Cloud Data Protection and Management, delivering the industry's first data management-as-a-service solution that aggregates data from endpoints, servers and cloud applications and leverages the public cloud to offer a single pane of glass to enable data protection, governance and intelligence-dramatically increasing the availability and visibility of business critical information, while reducing the risk, cost and complexity of managing and protecting it. Druva's...
BMC has unmatched experience in IT management, supporting 92 of the Forbes Global 100, and earning recognition as an ITSM Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader for five years running. Our solutions offer speed, agility, and efficiency to tackle business challenges in the areas of service management, automation, operations, and the mainframe.
The Jevons Paradox suggests that when technological advances increase efficiency of a resource, it results in an overall increase in consumption. Writing on the increased use of coal as a result of technological improvements, 19th-century economist William Stanley Jevons found that these improvements led to the development of new ways to utilize coal. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Thiele, Chief Strategy Officer for Apcera, compared the Jevons Paradox to modern-day enterprise IT, examin...
With 10 simultaneous tracks, keynotes, general sessions and targeted breakout classes, @CloudEXPO and DXWorldEXPO are two of the most important technology events of the year. Since its launch over eight years ago, @CloudEXPO and DXWorldEXPO have presented a rock star faculty as well as showcased hundreds of sponsors and exhibitors! In this blog post, we provide 7 tips on how, as part of our world-class faculty, you can deliver one of the most popular sessions at our events. But before reading...
DSR is a supplier of project management, consultancy services and IT solutions that increase effectiveness of a company's operations in the production sector. The company combines in-depth knowledge of international companies with expert knowledge utilising IT tools that support manufacturing and distribution processes. DSR ensures optimization and integration of internal processes which is necessary for companies to grow rapidly. The rapid growth is possible thanks, to specialized services an...
At CloudEXPO Silicon Valley, June 24-26, 2019, Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with expanded DevOpsSUMMIT and FinTechEXPO programs within the DXWorldEXPO agenda. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of business. Only 12% still survive. Similar percentages are found throug...
There are many examples of disruption in consumer space – Uber disrupting the cab industry, Airbnb disrupting the hospitality industry and so on; but have you wondered who is disrupting support and operations? AISERA helps make businesses and customers successful by offering consumer-like user experience for support and operations. We have built the world’s first AI-driven IT / HR / Cloud / Customer Support and Operations solution.
Codete accelerates their clients growth through technological expertise and experience. Codite team works with organizations to meet the challenges that digitalization presents. Their clients include digital start-ups as well as established enterprises in the IT industry. To stay competitive in a highly innovative IT industry, strong R&D departments and bold spin-off initiatives is a must. Codete Data Science and Software Architects teams help corporate clients to stay up to date with the mod...
Scala Hosting is trusted by 50 000 customers from 120 countries and hosting 700 000+ websites. The company has local presence in the United States and Europe and runs an internal R&D department which focuses on changing the status quo in the web hosting industry. Imagine every website owner running their online business on a fully managed cloud VPS platform at an affordable price that's very close to the price of shared hosting. The efforts of the R&D department in the last 3 years made that pos...