On the software engineering lecture

The last post wasn't really about the lecture, so this one is :)

How do we inspire people?

As we talked about how we inspire people by why we do instead of what and how, it is creepingly similar to this TED talk by Simon Sinek. I guess Prof Ben had watched this before, and I agree that this is a very inspiring concept :)

Software engineering practices 

About the software engineering practices: they are not exactly very new to me although I have no formal experience in that area. Dealing with people, decoupling, division of work etc. are all so common even outside software engineering that they are no-brainer common sense to everyone that has seriously managed a meaningful project or organisation (I hope this is not too biased).

One interesting fact that struck me is the striking similarity of the software engineering approaches to research approaches. In one of my core module titled "Research methodology", we were also told that there exists the "waterfall"-kind and "agile"-kind of research approach. Of course it doesn't work identically in wet lab research since "debugging"/"compiling" may take days/weeks (you need to wait for the bacteria to grow -- or how about drug effects that take a week to develop?), but it shows that best practices in unrelated fields tend to converge.

Designers and programmers

I consider myself a semi-designer and worked with a lot of (real) designers before, and I do not really agree about the apprehension that designers and programmers cannot mesh together. That is just lazy -- either the programmer does not attempt to appreciate design, or vice versa. The typical shouts of "geez I don't understand why I can't use my favourite font on the website" or "geez I don't understand why they want to use that font nobody has" are precisely mis-appreciations. If we talk different languages, then learn the other language to mend things! The ability to put yourself in other people's shoes is super useful here.

When I work with designers, I challenge their designs only if there is an objective flaw like impaired usability and difficulty/impossibility of implementation. I point out subjective flaws (like ugly font, ugly colours) but I emphasize that these are only recommendations and they are free to dismiss them. This way we recognise this little oft-forgotten thing called pride in their hearts.

It is also very useful to tell ahead of time the "impossible to implement" and "difficult to implement" stuff, and perhaps some background on why they are so. This will enable the designers to appreciate the difficulty of translating Photoshop mockups to real HTML/CSS implementation.

7 comments

As we talked about how we.

As we talked about how we inspire people by why we do instead of what and how, it is creepingly similar to this TED talk by Simon Sinek. I guess Prof Ben had watched this before, and I agree that this is a very inspiring concept

Perceptive indeed, you are, to have uncovered the secrets of my Jedi mind tricks. :-)

Dealing with people, decoupling, division of work etc. are all so common even outside software engineering that they are no-brainer common sense to everyone that has seriously managed a meaningful project or organisation.

Agreed, but it is surprisingly hard to execute properly.

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