IndyNDA Wrap-up for July 2010

This month’s IndyNDA meeting we heard from from Alan Stevens (@AlanStevens on “Does Your Code Tell a Story?”.  His compared the analogy of writing novels to writing software.  With great quotes on the subject, he was able to state some principles of software development.

Some of these ideas are…

  • Beauty is the ultimate defense against complexity
  • Tell the truth!  Write readable code… no more variables named x, y or z.
  • Good ideas come slowly.
  • You must freely and recklessly make new mistakes
  • You need tolerance for having no idea where your thinking is going.
  • Read a lot, write a log.  Review other people’s code. Open-source code is everywhere!
  • Give yourself short, concrete assignments or tasks.  These need to be easy to measure success.  He outlines the Pomodoro method of task management.
  • Write terrible first drafts… remove any expectations on it being “good”.

I personally took away great insight into the “write terrible first drafts” principle.  Many times we want to create some great on the first try.  We usually end up failing and disappointing ourselves.

He mentioned there are three draft cycles in writing (novels)…

  • Down draft – just get something down (even if it is terrible)
  • Up draft – clean up the down draft
  • Dental draft – carefully inspect the up draft just as a dentist would look over every tooth

It just so happened that on that night I was going to show how to quickly prototype a website using open tools.  This is essentually created that terrible first draft.  Not focusing on the pixel perfect dimentions, but getting something on the screen that represents your vision.

I will have a follow up post to this article with the details of the quick prototyping of websites.

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