DonnaM » Blog Archive » Messing with my spec

Messing with my spec

And why do developers do the same.

If I say I want it to work in a particular way, I want it to work like that! I don’t want it to work differently or I would have written it that way in the first place…

2 Responses to “Messing with my spec”

  1. George Olsen Says:

    It’s a related cause to dealing with graphic designer — which a friend mine refers to as the “Betty Crocker” issue.

    In the States, BC is a brand of instant cake mix. It initially sold quite poorly when it came out in the ’50s, because all you had to do was add water — which no self-respecting housewife at the time considered “cooking.” So BC reformulated the mix so that you also needed to add an egg. Voila! BC has been a best-seller ever since.

    The moral of the tale is you’ve got to give people space to add their own “egg” to the mix — even if as in BC’s case, it’s really more of an illusionary contribution.

    (Again, think about how you’d react if you were handed a spec and told to follow it to the letter.)

    Unfortunately, the issue is more problematic with programmers than designers — especially since most programmers I’ve met often regard UI as “fun” extracurricular recreation.

    Don’t have a good solution other than trying to get them involved earlier in the design process so they can feel they’ve made their contribution — and hopefully so that they get it, when you explain how their “cool hack” doesn’t fit the product vision.

    ‘Course, just as with designers, one also needs to be open to incorporating this stuff if in find they did it better. Generally doesn’t happen, but…

  2. Ben Kraal Says:

    I’ve just finished Cooper’s ‘Inmates are Running the Asylum’ and he has a bit to say about this issue. Basically he says it’s the programmers job to follow the spec *where it specifies behaviour*. He compares it to an architect specifying two windows for a room and coming along later to find the builder has installed three. Cooper says (IIRC) that programmers don’t/won’t follow a spec because they are used to them being vague and treat them as suggestions instead of blueprints. It’s probably a cultural thing :)

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