Rants

March 23rd, 2019

Why SAFe can be agile kryptonite

The problem with SAFe is that you can implement it without writing a single unit test or automating a single build…

February 24th, 2019

Should teams choose their own languages and tools?

Standardisation does have a place, but it should be reserved for infrastructure and collaboration rather than languages and tools.

August 30th, 2018

How I learned to love the “Agile Industrial Complex”

There is a growing sense of unease around how larger organisations have implemented agile. In particular, there is a tendency towards centralised control that can be at odds with the agile preference for individuals over process.

February 16th, 2018

Relax. There’s no conflict between architecture and agile.

Agile teams still need to make architecture decisions, but in supporting them architects should seek “just enough” architecture over “big design up front” and practical solutions over large-scale abstract thinking.

December 13th, 2017

Entity services: when microservices are worse than monoliths

Finely-grained, entity-based services seem to be advocated by some pretty authoritative sources. This is unfortunate as they are something of an anti-pattern that can undermine many of the benefits of decomposing an monolith into micoservices.

November 18th, 2017

Technical debt is an overused and lazy metaphor

Technical debt may be a useful metaphor for describing how bad code design undermines productivity to non-technical audiences, but it does not help in understanding the longer term problems that affect code bases.

August 14th, 2017

Swagger is not WSDL for REST. It’s much less useful than that…

Swagger enables the same kind of automated discovery and integration that WSDL was invented to support. In doing so it undermines the design of REST APIs and doesn’t even provide adequate documentation.

June 19th, 2017

When does refactoring become rewriting?

Refactoring describes a very specific and controlled technique for improving code. The problem is that it is often used to describe wholesale changes to code bases that should be treated as a rewrite.

May 16th, 2017

API management and the return of the enterprise service bus

No self-respecting integration platform is complete without an API management story these days. Is this just a RESTful return of the enterprise service bus?

January 28th, 2017

Why agile software architects should write code

No architect will ever admit to being out of touch with software development. However, unless you are writing code then it’s difficult to avoid becoming an “ivory tower” or “PowerPoint” architect that can only discuss systems in the abstract.

December 19th, 2016

Forget code coverage – test design should be driven by behaviours

Test coverage statistics are much loved by management teams and code quality tools. They tend to associate a high level of coverage with robust, well-managed code bases. Wrongly, as it turns out.

October 27th, 2016

The problem with using maturity models to describe technology solutions

Maturity models are a management tool. When applied to technology solutions they often provide a weak analysis that describes a false progression.

September 20th, 2016

What’s in a name? Three-lettered acronyms and their impact on development culture

Three-lettered acronyms can be a useful tool for providing brevity, but they can also give rise to a coded language that contributes to a cold and impersonal development culture.

April 14th, 2016

What do we actually mean when we say “business logic”?

In most cases “business logic” just refers to the poorly-defined “gloop” that sits between user interfaces and databases in layered architectures.

September 27th, 2015

REST APIs don’t need a versioning strategy – they need a change strategy

Change in an API is inevitable. Attempting to manage this change through version numbering usually creates more problems than it solves.

August 11th, 2015

Most software architecture diagrams are useless

The best architecture diagrams act as a map – if an architect can’t express a system clearly and concisely then they probably don’t understand it properly.

July 25th, 2015

Can cross-cutting concerns really exist between services?

You might be able to identify cross-cutting concerns in a monolith, but in a service-orientated world they should melt away into specific implementations.

November 22nd, 2014

The RESTafarian flame wars – common disagreements over REST API design

Debates on the finer points of REST can bring out the worst in people as they seek to define what is and is not “RESTful”. In most cases the debate is unlikely to make the difference between success and failure for an API.

October 3rd, 2014

The problem with GUIDs…

GUIDs do solve an important problem. It’s just rarely the problem that developers are trying to address…

July 9th, 2014

The problem with tiered or layered architecture

An architecture based on tiers or layers is too inflexible to deal with the more flexible demands of modern systems, particularly when you working with high-volume systems that require distributed processing.

April 21st, 2014

Hackable URIs may look nice, but they don’t have much to do with REST and HATEOAS

Structured and “Hackable” URIs are a staple part of SEO-friendly websites. Although developers generically expect to see them in HTTP-based APIs, they should be irrelevant to consumers of a fully RESTful API that leverages HATEOAS.

March 27th, 2014

Here’s the truth about CMS selection: It doesn’t really matter…

A lot of hot air is wasted on CMS selection. Having lived through many implementations, it’s not the platform decision that determines whether or not you will be successful.

February 21st, 2014

Lean development’s “last responsible moment” should address uncertainty, not justify procrastination

Deferring decisions to the “last responsible moment” can help you to adapt to the inevitable uncertainty that comes with agile development. The risk is that it can become an excuse for uncertainty that undermines development velocity.

August 12th, 2013

Agile velocity is not a measure of productivity

Agile does not necessarily lend itself to management reporting. The few metrics it exposes are designed to support internal planning rather than external measurement. It can be tempting to re-purpose velocity as a measure of productivity, though this will only distort team planning without saying anything meaningful.

February 22nd, 2013

A shared database is still an anti-pattern, no matter what the justification

Shared databases risk turning into performance bottlenecks that encourage close-coupling and create a single point of failure. There’s no justification for using them to integrate processes and applications.

June 19th, 2012

The Umbraco 5 debacle proves that even a free CMS needs effective governance

Having to pull the plug on a new version of your product is unfortunate. Scrapping it months after it’s been released is just plain careless.

July 3rd, 2011

Why you should never use a proof of concept in development projects

A proof of concept is often proposed as a way to quickly demonstrate viability. In most cases it does nothing of the sort and merely delivers a quick hack that can undermine good system design.

May 25th, 2010

The Times Online doesn’t need content to make its paywall a success…

The success or otherwise of the Times Online’s imminent paywall shouldn’t be judged on the number of subscribers. After all, content isn’t the only source of revenue.

January 14th, 2010

Forget the Kindle and iPad: Paper remains a superior technology

Despite the predictions that Apple’s tablet computer will be a game-changer I wouldn’t be writing off paper-based media for a while yet…

October 7th, 2009

Lies, damned lies and Adobe’s penetration statistics for Flash

Another quarter, another set of statistics from Adobe claiming “worldwide ubiquity” for the Flash plug-in. As with many vendor-commissioned surveys, the results of the Flash penetration survey are based on a truth that is spun out to an absurd degree.

April 13th, 2008

Social media and fanzine culture

As a medium where people could share ideas and be genuinely creative for the sheer hell of it, fanzine culture was like a small-scale internet.