Month: October 2015

The Essence of Engineering and Personal Neuroses

I read an interesting post this evening by Michael DeHaan, titled The Archaeology of Software.  In it, he makes the case that there is a great deal of value in endeavoring to understand why things exist as they do in, specifically, the field of software development.  He says (I’m paraphrasing) that’s way more productive than dismissing something out of hand as being subpar, dumb, brain dead, or whatever – and a learning opportunity is missed.  He makes a lot of insightful points, and I highly recommend you spend a few minutes reading it.

I know he was making a larger point about how some people behave towards others’ solutions and ways we might strive to rise above pettiness and vitriol to be more constructive, but he touches on so many facets of engineering.  What struck me as I read his post was how much engineering wisdom there was implicit in his words.  I don’t know Michael, and can’t say how deliberate his wording was, but he at least casually touched on the essence of engineering a lot in the post.  He spent a great deal of time enumerating a long list of  heuristics he has developed over time (see my last post).  These heuristics are very obviously hard earned from experience, and are all very consistent with the essence of engineering.

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The Process

In my last post, I spent a long time describing some recent successes at work.  At the end, I had the nerve to close the post on a very unsatisfying allusion to a ‘discussion for another post about “the process”‘.  Let this post be the first installment in a recurring series discussing “the process”, by which I mean “Engineering process”.

I want to start by addressing something that wasn’t acknowledged in my previous post, and is really only obvious in retrospect:  While the successes were pretty spectacular, they were made possible by a situation of extremely pent-up need.  That string of rapid, extreme successes was the dam breaking more than anything.  We were just there to ride the wave.  We made it look easy and sound amazing, but the truth is the situation made that easy for us.  Since that initial burst of productivity, things have settled down to a steady plod as we continue to iterate on improving things.

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