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Chris Falter .NET Design and Best Practices

Lately I haven't been checking in code for new features without first calling over our team's design and QA members for a walkthrough.  The process is really simple: I stand up in my cubicle, get them to take their headphones off, and ask them to come over to my workspace for 5 minutes.  Usually I don't have to bribe them with jelly doughnuts.  (Note to self: consider keeping a supply on hand, just in case.)  As they watch over my shoulder, I give them a little demo of what I've been working on.  They make comments about what looks good and what needs to be fixed.  I jot down notes so I don't forget anything, thank them for their time, and then fix what needs fixing before I check in the code.

This process has a lot of benefits:

  • Low friction: the earlier any defects are detected, the easier it is to fix them--less rushing to make last minute fixes before the customer demo!  And no one has to file a bug in Team Foundation Server, which is nice.
  • Good communication: if there are any questions or insights about a feature, we can have a conversation on the spot.  This means no delays and misunderstandings that sometimes result from email threads.
  • Early feedback: If the design needs reworking, the team can discover it quickly, and is in a position (with design, development, and QA gathered) to hammer out a better solution, on the spot.

Score one for collocation!  Obviously, this would not be possible if the designers, developers, and QA all dwelled in separate cubicle cities.

Of course, this is not a silver bullet; QA will have to do deeper testing when I check in the code.  But of all the 5-minute investments I could make in producing better software, faster, I can think of none more effective than over-the-shoulder functional walkthroughs.

Posted on Monday, July 26, 2010 9:28 PM Agile Methodologies | Back to top

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