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It's not all about the code

Posted by on March 5, 2010

When visiting information days at universities, you are once again reminded that creating good software is not all about the code. Sure, it is important to have your code as bug free as possible, well documented and as optimized as possible. It is, however, impossible to achieve this all without prior planning. Good project coordination.

It’s important to identify what features are necessary for you, or when working for someone else, for the client? Write them down on a piece of paper.

After that, grab another piece of paper! Start creating some simple sketches of pages for the project. Don’t be afraid, you might not be a designer, but I am sure you know how to handle a pencil. Draw relations between these pages. Try putting as much information as possible there while you are at it. Also try drawing some classes, and the relations between them.

When you are done, go through the sketches, while having the piece of paper with features next to your sketches. See if you miss anything, or whether there is way too much fancy stuff. Once you have done that you will now have a base to begin with. You have the feature list, you have a small sketch of your system. You also have some class skeletons from which you can start writing the code.

This all might not seem to be of use to you, it might look like overhead. From my own experience though, I write way better code if I plan before hand. I know the big picture of the system. Things are structured, both in my head and in the project. It is easy to adjust afterwards, because you know where you can find everything. Just look it up in your drawings! If you are not planning yet, I strongly advise you to start doing so, and see how it works out. You can always decide to stop doing it if it really doesn’t work out.

Marco is the keeper of keys and Chief Garbage Collector at Blue Parabola. He can be found on Twitter as @mtabini.

Responses and Pingbacks

It’s important to understand the difference between what client wants and what he or she really needs.

And once again: Less is more! Restrict users, give them the only needed features and you both would be happy.

I find that planning does seem to be missed by people who are so keen with getting on to writing something that they just miss it out and live to regret it in the future when they mess up, or haven’t planned for something. I think it comes down to the problem of how can you know what problems you may have if you haven’t planned for them.

[…] a recent (quick) post to the php|architect site Koen Van Urk reminds us that it’s not all about the code, there’s planning to consider too. Sure, it is important to have your code as bug free as […]

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