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The White Board


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White boards are a great overtization tool. By overtization I mean they bring out your team's thoughts so everybody can see and work on them.

Just yesterday we outlined three new menu items for a customer service enhancement. We had two page frames on a form and a second form to implement this. After a break my co-worker noted they all use the same grid. So I suggested we switch to one grid on one form and call it with a parameter used in the load and show to setup the differences.

Then we outlined the differences which are mainly in the filtering. He described the three filters based on the user's original request. I asked how are we going to make these filters a reality. At the end of the three pathways in our drawing we ended up with Fox keywords. Words like 'enable/disable' and 'parameterized view'. This connects the request with the code and makes what to do clear to the coder.

This makes it clear to all levels of the team what we are doing and how. Bosses, customers and implementers are going see what we're doing. Progress is out in the open for all to see and improve upon. And if blockages come up you 'x' out and redo easily. You can draw question marks and options. Balloons are great. Our white boards actually extend across offices.

White boards are better than paper because they set a context for the room. This is what we do here. They greet you as you enter.

White boards are a part of the Extreme Programming development technique. Joe Kuhn

Is your conclusion here generally accepted, or are you the first to suggest it? I could be wrong but it seems to me that Extreme Programming is more about sitting in front of a code window and less about design first. -- Mike Helland
I think you're right. However, white boards are a part of the approach. See "Extreme Programming Applied" by Auer and Miller. Joe Kuhn
XP is more about doing things in a tight feedback loop. Having worked this way for the past 3 years, I can say that I do a lot of design (probably more than I did before I learned about XP) -- I just don't do it without getting feed back at the code window. Surrounding a team with whiteboards is a good way to make this easy to do.

The book Joe mentioned has good information, and if you want an article that gives some insight into this topic, also check out:
http://martinfowler.com/articles/designDead.html
-- Bill Caputo
What Is Extreme Programming
( Topic last updated: 2002.09.05 11:50:19 PM )