A time-lapse Agile project

One of the hard things about teaching people Agile is helping them understand that the product starts out crummy—barely functional, probably looking really crude—and then keeps getting better and better each iteration. That stops when you reach the release date, or when you decide that all the remaining ways you can see to make it better aren’t worth the expense.

Stories, metaphors, declamations—they all help, some, but I think what I need most is a video like one of those time-lapse movies of a flower opening or a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis. I started making one by taking short quicktime snapshots of a product at the end of each iteration, but let it slide.

This last consulting visit, I was working with a product owner, and I realized that the famous 15 minutes to a weblog Rails video is like what I’m looking for. There’s a lot of commentary interesting only to a programmer, and it never does get a flashy UI, but there’s also visible growth.

The rest of the post gives a timeline so that you can skip around.

Iteration 0: getting the environment put together, ending with a “hello, world” application that does nothing but demonstrate that it can be built and deployed.
Iteration 1 demonstrates blog postings that have nothing but titles. The end-of-iteration demonstration lasts until 4:00.
Iteration 2 adds bodies to blog posts. Demonstration lasts until 4:17.
Iteration 3 adds creation dates, including what you can pretend is an example of a programmer implementing something, the product owner looking at it, saying “Can you make this little change before the story’s complete?”, and the programmer doing it. (Demonstration until 4:53.)
Iteration 4 adds some input validation. (Demonstration until 5:20.)
Iteration 5 pretties up the user interface.
Iteration 6 implements a markup language for posts.
Iteration 7 adds comments. (Demo throughout, but summary demo starts at 12:45 until 13:03.)

My product owner seemed to think it was worth watching. Maybe yours will too.

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