Software Engineer’s Blog

Software Engineering weblog

Tips from Bill Gates!

Interesting tips from Bill Gates to students and teenagers. I think it help to remind ourselves on these sometimes

Ref. Merinews

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January 25, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

GoogleWave: Access Control

While I was pretty happy about collaborative capabilities of Google Wave, I was apprehensive of free-for-all approach that it started with. That is, any one can do anything with a wave that he/she is participating.

From what I see in Google Wave, it looks like Google has been working on it, and has come out with some solution; not enough but fine as a beginning

January 23, 2010 Posted by | Collaboration, Google Wave, Web 2.0 | Leave a comment

Politics of Technology

Internet has simplified computing manifold, in 1990s, and thereby taking technology to every walk of life. First decade of the new millennium has seen it evolving increasingly into a platform for social collaboration. By and large, collective human endeavor has been behind this success with open and free interaction.

Popularity and adoption has also led to burgeoning trends in attack of malicious intent on this wonderland, and sometimes with political undertones. This runs counter to spirit of largely trust based interaction of professionals and volunteers. But, then, it is a natural consequence of social adoption of technology and cannot be wished away.

As is made out sometimes, problem is neither with technology nor with social adoption but the recklessness of its adoption. Technology is often adoption without adequate cost-benefit analysis; obviously, cost-benefit mentioned here is not just from economic perspectives

I think it is time for sociologist take a serious look at unprecedented social changes triggered by evolving technology, to contain its negative impacts, before it turns out to be a frankenstein

January 21, 2010 Posted by | Collaboration, Sociology | Leave a comment

Google Wave: Dead or Alive?

Hype helps sometimes but, at times, it kills as well.

I was surprised by the haste in which obituary for innovative service like Google Wave were writen. Was it SEO back hat at work, or result of tunnel vision? Fortunately, it seems that Google Wave has outlived going by quality and quantity of waves

Some of the waves that I find interesting are:
1. Game design and development
2. Cloud computing
3. Emergency management CSA Z1600
4. Emergency management NPFA 1600
5. Singularity
6. Wave on marketing innovation
7. Wave for members of Google Wave Interest group in Linked in
8. Edge Theory
9. Design bookmarks
10. Wave for project management and mind mapping
11. Use of Google Wave in classroom
12. Cosmology and Philosophy
13. Are people basically good, evil or neutral
………………………… many more that I am yet to get into
14. A philosopher’s mind
15. Why is it that when we learn Philosophy we start with ancient texts?

I believe, future of Google Wave having gathered so much momentum during within less than a year after first beta release should be good. Looking ahead, I am foresee possibilities of not just using Google Wave in isolation but rather integrating with other collaborative software and services as web evolve into a social platform

January 20, 2010 Posted by | Collaboration, Google Wave, Web 2.0 | Leave a comment

IT 2010 and beyond!

Have you been looking at your crystal ball to see where IT is headed? Read Gartner Highlights: Key Predictions for IT Organizations and Users in 2010 and Beyond .

Particularly interesting, looking at it from India, is the prediction that ‘India-centric IT services companies will represent 20 percent of the leading cloud aggregators in the market by 2012’ is interesting.

Prediction that ‘mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common Web access device worldwide by 2013’ indicates a changing landscape of computing. Computing was once a terrain for techno-geeks; it is now an irreplaceable aspect for everyday life, tool for business and platform for collaboration. Is it not yet time we get serious about it?

January 18, 2010 Posted by | Business, Collaboration, Product Engineering, software engineering, Software Quality, Value Based Software Engineering, Web 2.0 | Leave a comment

A hard look at software development business

Software Engineering: The Sociology of Software Project Failure is taking a hard look at current business, especially software development business, scenario. Statements sound harsh and politically inappropriate but many of them are, unfortunately, true.

Whether you agree with all observations and inferences made in the article, or not, it makes a compelling reading. It is pointing to fault lines in much touted software development business which prides itself in building social and business platform of future

I am reminded of Edsger W. Dijkstra: The required techniques of effective reasoning are pretty formal, but as long as programming is done by people that don’t master them, the software crisis will remain with us and will be considered an incurable disease. And you know what incurable diseases do: they invite the quacks and charlatans in, who in this case take the form of Software Engineering gurus.

Is it not yet time for business to wake up and own social responsibility?

January 17, 2010 Posted by | Software architecture, software engineering, Software Quality, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Software Engineering, and changing software development business

Pardon me if my statement “software engineering is hard” sounds like a cliche. Lest it sound like I am parroting what Grady Booch has already stated “software development has been, is, and will remain a fundamentally hard profession” , let me elaborate. Here, my reference is not about software development being hard due to inherent complexities and invisible changes. It is rather about doing business in a changing world. What does that mean?

If one were to hibernate for about five years, world of software that you see would be quite a lot different. Changes may not be fundamental but there are significant changes. Well, as always, devil is in the details.

Let me elaborate going a little more specific now. Let us look at from two perspectives.

i) Analysis and design: Object Oriented Analysis and Design was quite in the hype early 1990s. I too joined the bandwagon, going around with the hammer looking for nails. Books on object orientation from those days talked at length about finding abstractions (identifying nouns etc) from requirements but these provided no scope for working with technical solutions. This was largely left to the discretion of individual practitioners. Experience of these practitioners were absorbed into standard Object Oriented Analysis and Design methodology taking it to its present bloated form. This happened in a span of 5-10 years

ii) Software Testing and Software Test Automation: Way back in 1990s, when popular testing tools like IBM Rational Robot (then called SQA Robot) and HP (Mercury) WinRunner came into being, popular success of web could hardly be envisaged. What was started off as tool to testing Windows GUI application had to extend itself into test web based application. These challenges continue as web 2.0, SoA, SaaS and mobile applications emerge. Point here is, when projects are undertaken in respective technologies, necessary tool support is not yet in place often. It is left to the individual teams to create custom solutions, which subsequently get into available tool sets.

These details are rarely look into, at decision making levels. Management of software development business are still desperately looking for mythical silver bullet solutions. Tool vendors still continue to promise magic wand solutions without looking into details before making such promises; well, it is again business! Developers are caught between …

I am not proposing a miracle solution. No such solution exists. My effort all along my consulting practice has been, and will be, to get business into sufficient level of details in decision making and helping them implement the same. With the scope for factoring in “Success Critical Stakeholders”, I find Value Based Software Engineering to hold potential as framework for such a deliberation.

January 13, 2010 Posted by | Business, Collaboration, Product Engineering, software engineering, Unified Process, Value Based Software Engineering | 1 Comment

Software engineering and Business

As a software engineering practitioner, I had been trying to apply software engineering practices in my daily business life. For instance, I started working with object oriented approach from 1993. I started use case modeling from 2002. I had started adopting agile practices since 2003. I started using function point estimation since 2004. As a subject matter expert, trainer and consultant, I had been helping my customers adopt these, and many more.

I help my team and my customers adopt because I do believe in these practices, and its business value. That said, my observation and experience has been each of them has evolved as the way of doing, through success in specific projects, then generalized and applied in many similar ones. Absolute care is called for when applying to a business context to be successful, because each context is different; people, business imperatives, priorities, technology, customer, user, … these differ.

Success here refers to business success. For example, when a project team is enabled on requirements definition, compliance to a defined standards is incidental; Compliance to a standard is rarely a real business objective/benefit. It, in turn, for another business objective/benefit. Actual success would mean achieving business objectives of well defined requirements. It may ,for instance, be a better communication across the team, control on scope creep etc. There are many cases where documentations are created but never referred except for process audit. It is pointless if compliance to standards is achieved but not the business objectives

Why am I saying? If you look around, you will find many situations where hours, or even days, are spent on creating documentation to convince an external auditor. I have seen this happening many times over. What is the business value delivered? Valuable productive time is being spent on a work item that should have been in place. These should have been part of the process, or by-product of the process, is being created for the sake of review. If it is truly valuable, why not account for it? If realities of business does not allow time for such documentation, why create them in the first place? Why recreate just for the sake of process compliance?

What is the issue? It is conflicting stakeholder interest, not mapped, not assessed, not tracked, not managed, … well, all stakeholders are not the same, and all stakeholder interests are not the same. Nor these remain the same; it may change with time. Practices which does not realize this, sooner or later degenerate into a ritual.

Let us accept. Practices of software engineering are not universal as in case of other engineering disciplines because underlying principles are not universal as in case of underlying scientific principles of other engineering disciplines; say scientific principles in mathematics or physics.

Software is a construction of human mind and software development is a teamwork. Therefore, management of software development business includes, but goes much beyond confines of, traditional science. Some of the underlying scientific fields are physics, mathematics, organizational behavior, economics, management science, and sociology

That makes it more than what a everyday business can chew; it is more of a potential research area. But life is not so complex either. We balance these forces everyday; we do it more out of experience and gut feel. Dynamic balancing is done in the context of everyday business. What interests me in value based software engineering is that it gives me a context and a framework for such balancing and a reasonably scientific analysis

January 4, 2010 Posted by | Business, software engineering, Software Quality, Value Based Software Engineering | 1 Comment

Value Based Software Engineering

More than four decades passed by since birth of software engineering!

The Standish Group‘s report, “CHAOS Summary 2009” indicates that only 32% of all projects are succeeding. This represents one end of the spectrum with the gloomy picture of failing projects. On the other end is pervasive influence of software in every walk of life and burgeoning business of software development.

Since 1968, many has professed software engineering. Software engineering defined as “systematic, disciplined, quantifiable approach” has been both wide accepted and questioned. Fundamental questions remain unanswered:

1. Is software development a craftsmanship an engineering discipline? Why should the question be either/or ? I think it is both
2. Is “systematic, disciplined, quantifiable approach” important or delivering value NOW is important? Again, I think the question is not either/or. It is interesting to see the definition of engineering from Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. That is, meaning is given as the application of science and mathematics by which the properties of matter and the sources of energy in nature are made useful to people . More than “systematic, disciplined, quantifiable approach” in itself but ensuring value is delivered to business, ensuring success of success-critical stakeholders is more important.
………………………………………… and many more

Value based software engineering seems to be providing a framework for assessment. It answers many questions and it is throwing up many more questions. These questions are poised to take software engineering to new heights

I am getting set to explore the space of “value based software engineering”. I plan to dedicate my new year for “value based software engineering”

January 2, 2010 Posted by | Business, software engineering, Software Quality, Value Based Software Engineering | Leave a comment