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Showing posts from January, 2012

Do we care whether it's Software Engineering or Craft?

Much like a tenet of agile software development is that "planning is more important than the plan," there are some questions about software development that are useful to explore, even if you can't suggest a good answer. One of these these is whether what we, as software developers do, is (or can be) engineering.

I was talking with a colleague about a comment someone made about a post about lessons that software engineers can learn from artists. In this comment the poster raised an issue that comes up a lot when someone uses the phrase "software engineer." The question was, in essence:

Is what we do when we build software "engineering" or "craft?"
My colleague, who has a background in Naval Engineering and who is engaged to an Electrical Engineer (who designs and builds hardware) suggested that the difference is that one rule of thumb might be:

It's engineering if you need to use calculation (about physical constraints).
An example was tha…

Agility (and Learning Opportunities) Everywhere

People often ask "can I apply agile methods to something other than software development?" Since the basic appeal of agile methods is to acknowledge uncertainty by planning in increments, evaluating where you are relative to the plan and other forces, and planning the next increment, it seems like there should be no obstacle to following an agile approach for any project. The lurking question many have is "but can my type of project really be structured in an incremental way?"

While in general, I tend to believe that the answer is "yes," it's always good to have examples. So I was intrigued to head a segment on the radio show Living On Earth, where the rapper Baba Brinkmann described his approach to developing The Rap Guide to Evolution as "Performance, Feedback, Revision," which is a very concise way to describe an agile approach. This meta-aspect of this also intrigued me, as Brinkman used the performance, feedback, revision theme in the e…