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   Extreme Specwriting - was Re: [xml-dev] The myth of 80/20

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On Mar 4, 2004, at 11:52 AM, Eric van der Vlist wrote:
> Digression: for programmers an alternative to 80/20 is XP (extreme
> programming). Unfortunately that doesn't seem easy to adapt for
> specification authors.

I mused on this subject in a comment to an article on XML.com once.

  Using XP key concepts from 
http://www.xprogramming.com/xpmag/whatisxp.htm as a starting point:

"whole team forms around customer" -> focus on what *users* of the spec 
need from it, not what the vendors supporting it want to put in it

"series of small fully-integrated releases that pass all the tests the 
Customer has defined" -> create small specs, make sure they work well 
before adding onto them.

"common and simple picture of what the system looks like" -> make the 
spec resemble the intersection of the inputs; all too often, specs look 
more like the union of their inputs.

  "simple design and obsessively tested code, improving the design 
continually to keep it always just right for the current need" -> when 
specs get too big and complex, refactor.

Some things don't fit real well, but let's try:

pair programming -> multiple editors?  Using a Wiki to write the spec 

sustainable pace -> don't try to do it all at once, do it in a series 
of versions ???

  I don't know of any obvious examples where these principles  worked. 
Maybe RELAX-NG?  DOM did some of these things right, e.g. doing it in a 
series of versions at a sustainable pace rather than on a death march, 
and the HTML version at least was more or less the intersection of what 
MS and Netscape did or were planning to do.  DOM Level 3 has been 
largely test-driven, as has the WS-I Basic Profile of SOAP/WSDL.
XML 1.0 itself is the prime example for "when it gets too complex to 
understand, refactor".


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