[Foundation-l] FlaggedRevisions status (March 2010)
william at scissor.com
Thu Mar 4 17:12:33 UTC 2010
Hi, Stephen. Thanks for making your point in a polite, low-drama way.
On 03/04/2010 05:58 AM, Stephen Bain wrote:
>> The answer is already given ... When it is done. You have been informed with
>> > the latest developments.. so you know the existing issues.
> That's normally the perfect answer, but the point of this discussion
> is that it's not unreasonable to expect something more concrete when
> there are people getting paid to do the work.
I think the real problem here is not the lack of a date for when it will
be done. It's that progress isn't sufficiently transparent -- something
that also frustrates me and something we are actively working on solving.
Right now people can see code being committed, and they can see items
being checked off. But for most people, that's effectively meaningless;
it gives them no familiar, intuitive way to judge progress. So they fall
back to dates, which they do have experience in judging, and deadlines,
which give the comforting illusion of surety. 
Instead, I think the right approach is to put new software out there
frequently, so people can try it out for themselves and form their own
opinions of how close we are. Eventually, both the builders and the
community will agree that there's something worth shipping. And in the
meantime, the discussion that goes on will improve the product in ways
that no mere look at the calendar ever could.
So yes, all parties are in favor of something more concrete, and as soon
as possible. We're working on it. We would already have it, except that
I underestimated both the issues involved in releasing to labs and the
difficulty of quickly setting up new production-equivalent test
environments. That's hard for the same reasons of historical
underinvestment that until recently held Wikipedia's UI back.
And to address an occasional theme in both the on- and off-list mail
I've received: I believe there are no bad actors or sinister plans
keeping this from happening. If I did, I'd raise a ruckus, quit, or
both: I've got better things to do than go-nowhere projects. This is
happening. We are making good progress, progress that we want to show to
you, and we will do that as soon as we can.
 There are a lot of reasons I think the deadline model is
pathological for software projects. Having spent a decade understanding
why and learning more effective approaches, I have a lot to say on the
topic -- too much for this list, I think. But if people want to discuss
that off-list, please do drop me a line. In the world of print,
McConnell's "Rapid Development" ch. 8 and 9 has a very readable
explanation of the problems. Poppendieck's "Lean Software Development"
and Cohn's "Agile Estimating and Planning" are good places to start for
the modern solutions. Caspers Jones also has some great material on
deadline failure rates, but I don't have refs handy.
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