Guess We Did Something Right

"It strikes me that the iterative development boys are on the right track. Although it's just a fancy name for what every cowboy carpenter doescut and try.[4] Those boys know that they can't measure or cut that accurately, so they rough it out first, and then fix it until they're done. Of course you guys would call it 'successive refinement on subsequent iterations.'"

[4] What Leroy is referring to here is the kind of carpentry ranchers and farmers dobuilding rough structures like barns and fences. The other end of the spectrum would be fine craftsmanship, as exhibited by a professional woodworker or cabinetmaker. I think most software professionals view themselves more at the craftsman end of the spectrum, so Roscoe is probably a little out of line here with his analogy. But there is a middle ground. We do not start most software projects with a detailed drawing of the cabinet precise to the millimeter.

I detected a small note of sarcasm in Roscoe's summary. But he was not to be deterred.

"Of course, the cowboy carpenter has to be more careful than you guys. He knows that he can always take a little more off, but adding material back is hard. Learned that from his barber. So he always has to make his first cut the right way. Some big city comptrollers use that algorithm, too."

Now Roscoe always pronounces the "p" in comptroller so that you know that he knows the right word. But "algorithm" came out of his mouth sort of like "I'll-go-rhythm." Oh shoot, I thought. We are in big trouble. Roscoe has learned a new word.

"Roscoe, where did you pick up that word 'algorithm'?" I asked.

"Well, son, I've been talking to some software architects…" he trailed off.

"Huh," I replied, "who told you to do that?"

"First of all, you did. You said talk with people. Hey, I may look stupid, but I know what I don't know. There's a big difference between reading a set of blueprints and producing one. So I went and palavered a bit with those good old boys."

"Fair enough," I said. "What did you learn?"

The Software Development Edge(c) Essays on Managing Successful Projects
The Software Development Edge(c) Essays on Managing Successful Projects
Year: 2006
Pages: 269 © 2008-2017.
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