Saturday, March 17, 2012

Who cares about the user?

As promised, I am going to play with my process. Unlike what I promised, I am not going to waste an entire iteration on this. I am going to waste several!

I have already tried one change: scheduling optional stories. It didn't work, but I'm glad I tried. I am not on a tight schedule, so I can take the time to experiment and see what works. I even tried the Spiral idea of trashing all my code and starting from scratch using my newly accumulated experience: that's what I did on the very first iteration, when I decided to drop everything and start fresh, Agile-style this time. What should I try for the next iteration?

Well, is there something from the last iteration which could be improved? Let's see, was there anything at all which went wrong? Let me think. Oh, right. Maybe the fact that I totally failed to produce anything at all?

Yeah, during the past iteration, I didn't accomplish much. Or rather, that's what you would think if you only looked at the number of stories I completed: zero. And indeed, when I run Substrate, it looks exactly as it did two weeks ago. But that is only part of the picture! Sure, the look didn't change and there are no new buttons to click on, but I did spend a lot of time working on Substrate, trying out new architectures and comparing design approaches. Even as I worked, I felt like I was wasting precious time, because days went by and my metric wasn't improving.

Well, screw the metric. Screw the users, I mean. Erh... that's not what I meant either.

This iteration, I am testing a variant on story descriptions: instead of focusing on user-visible features, I am going to focus on developer-visible features. If code needs to be written, then I don't care whether that code is producing buttons, menus, bells, or whistles: by golly, this code is going to be divided into small story-like chunks and assigned to an iteration!

Iteration 4

This iteration is still about geting Substrate to interact with external files, but the steps to reach this goal are more detailed. Stories 18 and 20 have no user-visible impact.

Story 10 (1 story point): I can save the current project. Use a version number in case the format changes.
Stories 11 to 16: Postponed.
Story 17 (1 story point): I can reload and run the entire project.
Story 18 (1 story point): Simple filesystem-backed key-value store with one file per key.
Story 19 (2 story points): The project reloads when the filesystem copy of the store changes.
Story 20 (2 story points): Specialized store interface for strings, integers, and string arrays.
Story 21 (1 story point): The project stores the active input tab.

p.s.: Don't take the title of this post seriously. The only user Substrate ever had, so far, is myself.

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