Exploration Through Example

Example-driven development, Agile testing, context-driven testing, Agile programming, Ruby, and other things of interest to Brian Marick
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Fri, 30 Sep 2005

First mover disadvantage

A while back, I stayed at a Marriott hotel. Around US$150 at a reduced conference rate, plus US$10 for wired high-speed internet. Not long before then I'd stayed at a no-name hotel for US$70. It had free wireless.

Why the difference? I suppose it's just whatever it is that makes hoteliers think the more expensive the room, the more expensive should be the bottle of Aquafina water placed in the room.

But I also toyed with the thought that it could be a form of first-mover disadvantage. Marriott no doubt put in high-speed internet before wireless was even an option. The other hotel waited. I suspect it's a lot more expensive to string wires all over the hotel than to put up wireless hubs. Having strung those wires, was Marriott now stuck when wireless came along? Were there financial or emotional (sunk cost fallacy) reasons for sticking with a solution that's been superseded?

Are early adopters of Agile subject to the same? Are they (we?) prone to getting stuck at local maxima? I suppose that's inevitable. It's sometimes said that the fiercest critics of this generation's avante garde isn't the boring old mainstream; it's last generation's avante garde.

Bob Martin said at Agile 2005 that industry seems to be converging on a standard Agile approach: Scrum with a subset of the XP practices. That's good, but what's the next step beyond that? I personally think it's about the Product Owner / Customer. People used to say things like "programmers can't test their own code" or "programmers are asocial" or "requirements must be complete, testable, and unambiguous." Turns out we now know (mostly) how to make those things untrue. There are a lot of statements about product owners that are like that. How many of them have been made untrue? Doesn't seem like many. So I bet there's work to do.

One such statement is "To the product owner, the UI is the software." I've heard that as a support for Fit ActionFixture over DoFixture. Not because ActionFixture describes the actual UI, but because product owners can grasp that metaphor, whereas DoFixture would be too abstract.

Now, I'm biased, because I think that it's almost always the business logic that delivers the value. The UI is a way to make that value accessible. It's secondary. So I want the product owner to think, um, like me. Or better than me - to come to some product understanding / conceptualization / language that's surprising, that reveals product possibilities in the way that refactoring reveals code possibilities.

The question is: what nitty-gritty techniques can be used for that? It makes no sense to go up to someone and say, "Reconceptualize your domain!" I have a low opinion of teaching people how to think, and a high opinion of teaching them how to do.

## Posted at 19:53 in category /agile [permalink] [top]

About Brian Marick
I consult mainly on Agile software development, with a special focus on how testing fits in.

Contact me here: marick@exampler.com.




Agile Testing Directions
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Working your way out of the automated GUI testing tarpit
  1. Three ways of writing the same test
  2. A test should deduce its setup path
  3. Convert the suite one failure at a time
  4. You should be able to get to any page in one step
  5. Extract fast tests about single pages
  6. Link checking without clicking on links
  7. Workflow tests remain GUI tests
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Design-Driven Test-Driven Design
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