J.D. Meier's Blog

Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness

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  • Blog Post: The Power of Learning Docs

    The key to effective knowledge management is to throw away documents.   You can’t get attached to what you write down.  Otherwise, you can’t learn and it won’t evolve.   But there is a trick … You throw away the document, not the learning. I learned this the hard way.  ...
  • Blog Post: Reference Models, Reference Architectures, and Reference Implementations

    "All models are wrong, but some are useful." -- George Box I often see confusion over reference models, reference architectures, and reference implementations.  In this post, I’ll share my experience and learnings and observations: Reference Model - A Reference model is a model of something...
  • Blog Post: My Arm’s Broke, Fix Me - Three Levels of Guidance in patterns & practices

    Early in my patterns & practices days, each time I built a new team, we had a hard time figuring out what level to cater our writing for because we had such a variety of audience, even among architects. After a lot of pain, we finally adopted a three-level system that serves us very well.  It...
  • Blog Post: Evaluation Criteria Example

    I often find myself sharing examples of evaluation criteria in the prescriptive guidance space.  Here are some examples of criteria from one of my favorite platform assessments: Best practice compliance . For a given analysis topic, to what degree did the platform permit implementation of best practices...
  • Blog Post: Test-Driven Product Design

    One way to drive more effective product design is to start with scenarios.  One way to think of this is “Persona-based scenarios with goals.”  You can use the scenarios as test cases.  The scenarios can help you evaluate the design and they can help you evaluate implementation.  Simply...
  • Blog Post: Guidance Product Model for Domain “X”

    Here is a sketch of the mental model I use when thinking through how to address a space with prescriptive guidance: At a high level, it’s a “stack,” and by having a model of the stack, you can choose how far up the stack to go: Domain Knowledge – This is about breaking the problem space down into useful...
  • Blog Post: ASP.NET Scenarios Map

    The Microsoft ASP.NET Scenarios Map is a consolidated and shared view of the common scenarios and tasks with ASP.NET. You will find Getting Started and Architecture scenarios first, followed by other common areas. Scenarios in each group should represent common tasks developers would face when building...
  • Blog Post: CRUD for Content

    While we’ve been thinking through content strategies and content experiences, one of the phrases I started using to quickly share an idea is “CRUD for Content.”   It’s modeled after CRUD operations for applications – CREATE, READ, UPDATE, DELETE.  It’s simple, but it quickly helps folks...
  • Blog Post: Application Scenarios and Solutions

    As part of our patterns & practices Azure Security Guidance project, we’re starting off by focusing end-to-end application scenarios. We’re taking a crawl, walk, run approach by starting with the simplest combinations of application types and authentication, authorization, and communication patterns...
  • Blog Post: Windows IA (Information Architecture)

    One of my key projects over the last six months was to figure out an Information Architecture (IA) for the Microsoft Windows platform. This post is a behind the scenes look at how I went about figuring out a simple IA for the Windows platform. You can think of an IA simply as how you structure, organize...
  • Blog Post: Writing Books on Time and on Budget

    One of the questions I get asked is how did we execute our patterns & practices Application Architecture Guide 2.0 project , on time and on budget ?  It was a six month project, during which we .... Created a language and model for application architecture.  (See Grady Booch on the Microsoft...
  • Blog Post: Agile Architecture Method Pocket Guide

    We posted our Agile Architecture Method Pocket Guide to our Application Architecture Guidance KB .  This is in response to customers who expressed interest in more modular guides as a supplement to our Application Architecture Guide 2.0 . Chapters At a Glance Here’s the chapters at a glance...
  • Blog Post: Agile Guidance

    When I ramp new folks on the team, I find it helpful to whiteboard how I build prescriptive guidance.  Here's a rough picture of the process: Examples I've used the same process for Performance Testing Guidance , Team Development with Visual Studio Team Foundation Server , and WCF Security . Here...
  • Blog Post: Software Guidance Share

    I'm testing another version of the home page on Software Guidance Share . Software Guidance Share is a perpetual work in progress. I think of it as my quick-and-dirty guidance KB for developers and solution architects. I continuously refactor information into reusable nuggets. I also test ways to browse...
  • Blog Post: Patterns and Practices for Visual Studio Team System

    I thought it might be helpful to walk through a deliverable so you can see my current approach for building prescriptive guidance in patterns & practices. Stage 1: Knowledge Base We start by building the knowledge base: VSTS Guidance KB (Knowledge Base) In this stage, we do a lot of solution...
  • Blog Post: Guidance Share Sweep

    One of the most important things I did while I was on vacation was sweeping Guidance Share . Guidance Share is where I consolidate my body of software engineering guidance and test user experiences. I redesigned the home page for simpler browsing and findability. It was more pain than pleasure for me...
  • Blog Post: Building Books in patterns and practices

    Book building is art and science. I've built a few books over the years at patterns & practices. In this post, I'll share a behind the scenes look at what it takes to do so. I'll save the project management piece for another day, and focus on the core of book building. Book Examples Before we...
  • Blog Post: CodePlex, GE, and MSDN

    One of the questions I get is how we build and publish our guides and what's the relationship of CodePlex , GE and MSDN . At a high-level, we build reusable guidance nuggets for customer questions and tasks. We then build a larger guide to bring the nuggets together into a story. Together, this gives...
  • Blog Post: Scenarios in Practice

    Scenarios are a practical way to organize and focus your product design, development and release. (We use scenario-driven engineering in patterns & practices) Key Benefits Business value . You can use scenarios to evaluate business value. What pain does that scenario address? ... What opportunity...
  • Blog Post: How To Research Efficiently

    Building guidance takes a lot of research. Over the years, I've learned how to do this faster and easier. One of the most important things I do is setup my folders (whether file system or Groove) Initial Folders /Project X /Drafts /Research /Reference Folder Over Time Over time, this ends...
  • Blog Post: Driver's Guide vs. Owner's Manual

    One of the metaphors I use to explain the distinction between documentation and guidance is Driver's guide vs. Owner's Manual. While I could go into the finer details, it's a good starting point. From an owner's manual, I expect to see how things work and how they're intended to be used. From a driver...
  • Blog Post: Guidance 2.0

    Imagine what a Guidance 2.0 world might be like ... browse tag clouds of reusable "architecture nuggets" subscribe to "guidance feeds" that give you the latest practices and recommendations share your "guidance" playlists with friends (share your favorite collections of how tos, guidelines...
  • Blog Post: Scenario Frames for Guidance

    When I tackle a problem domain, I first frame out the space. To do this, I list out scenarios and sub-scenarios. I group the scenarios under categories. Sometimes categories come first, sometimes scenarios do. I call the result, a Scenario Frame. I use Scenario Frames to evaluate platform, tools,...
  • Blog Post: Context is Key

    I was browsing Rico's blog and I came across his post Do Performance Analysis in Context . I couldn't agree more. When it comes to evaluation, context is key. If you don't know the scenarios and context, you can't trust the merits of your data or solutions. To spread the idea and importance at work,...
  • Blog Post: Analyzing a Problem Space

    How do you learn a problem space? I've had to chunk up problem spaces to give advice for the last several years, so I've refined my approach over time. In fact, When I find myself churning or don't have the best answers, I usually find that I've missed an important step. Problem Domain Analysis ...
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