Read my latest article: 8 things I look for in a Ruby on Rails app (posted Thu, 06 Jul 2017 16:59:00 GMT)

Dialogue-Driven Development is about rounded corners

Posted by Sat, 05 Aug 2006 14:49:00 GMT

5 comments Latest by James Mon, 07 Aug 2006 21:01:31 GMT

In response to our introduction of Dialogue-Driven Development, writes, ” seems to be the Rails community’s pattern to take an existing concept — or misconception — put rounded corners on it and deem it something new.” (link)

I’m not sure that I can completely agree with this generalization. What I’ve witnessed as a member of the Rails community, is an attempt to simplify code, solutions, processes, and as a result… conversation between developers and clients has become much richer and coherent. Take this with a grain of salt as this has only been my experience. Complex solutions are complex to explain and often too complex to know if they are actually solving the right goal. On the other hand, simple solutions make way for better dialogue. With Ruby on Rails, we are provided with a foundation that encourages and embraces best practices and simple solutions (rounded corners?), which makes it easier to discuss with the client. This is what fascinates me about Ruby on Rails… and what Martin Fowler in his keynote at RailsConf.

Perhaps it makes sense that what Brian and I are outlining with our approach to defining patterns for client<->development team interaction evolved through us working with Ruby on Rails. However, there is nothing that requires Rails in order to follow the patterns that we’re discussing. In Brian’s first article about d3, he referenced the following…

“What we are seeing is a drive toward simplicity. Conventional wisdom once was “quick necessarily means dirty”. Ruby challenges that.
Martin Fowler

At the very core of our approach with Dialogue-Driven Development is the Agile Manifesto. The author of this post is correct, we’re taking an existing concept and putting rounded corners on it. We’re trying to make it simpler. We find that Scrum is too process heavy and while we can see it being a good step away from the Waterfall approach, it’s still not giving us that warm and fuzzy feeling. Rails developers know what that warm and fuzzy feeling is… and we are hoping to find something that gives our clients and us the same feeling when we’re not coding. We want lightweight methodologies to complement our lightweight frameworks and patterns.

We are uncovering better ways of developing
software by doing it and helping others do it.
Through this work we have come to value:

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan

That is, while there is value in the items on
the right, we value the items on the left more.

The Agile Manifesto

It’s time to start rethinking how we work with clients. Too often we end up working for them and while we might build them what they want… we might not be giving them what they need.

So, I must ask… has working with Ruby on Rails reshaped the way you think about client and developer conversation? If so, for the better or worse?

High traces of collaboration and dialogue are usually found in the recipe of any successful project.

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  1. Avatar
    Howard Sat, 05 Aug 2006 21:38:04 GMT

    What makes you think that Scrum isn’t simple? ;-)

  2. Avatar
    bryanl Sat, 05 Aug 2006 22:02:49 GMT

    Sensationlism makes folks read blogs. The quote you pointed out was one of the questionable quotes in the article. I think raises a valid point, and they do bring their point home:

    While programming is, in the end, applied mathematics, application development and operations are applied narratology. The “dialogue driven development” idea is an interesting one, I think, but I’d hate to see them toss out a useful tool like the backlog based on its misapplication.

    I think the bow shot at Ruby On Rails jaded your opinion of the rest the article.

  3. Avatar
    Robby Russell Sat, 05 Aug 2006 23:39:15 GMT Recommend me on Working with Rails


    I intend to go into more detail about the Product backlog in another blog post in the next few days. His blog post was good but I just wanted to discuss this point first as I don’t think he is wrong about the rounded corners. ;-)

  4. Avatar
    Peter Armstrong Sun, 06 Aug 2006 02:39:43 GMT

    Heh, when I read this I thought “But you forgot gradient fills, the other essential part of Web 2.0!”. Argh, I need to get out more…

  5. Avatar
    James Mon, 07 Aug 2006 21:01:31 GMT

    Working with clients is called Enterprise Architecture, working for clients is called staff augmentation…