Friday, January 06, 2006

Mac XP

Sort of like the "Pooh and the Philosophers" only for XP and the Mac development team.

Project Metaphor: Creative Think "Find a central metaphor that's so good that everything aligns to it. Design meetings are no longer necessary, it designs itself. The metaphor should be crisp and fun."

Refactoring: -2000 Lines Of Code "He recently was working on optimizing Quickdraw's region calculation machinery, and had completely rewritten the region engine using a simpler, more general algorithm which, after some tweaking, made region operations almost six times faster. As a by-product, the rewrite also saved around 2,000 lines of code."

Simple Design: MacPaint Evolution "I was surprised a few days later when Bill told me that he decided to remove the character recognition feature from MacPaint. He was afraid that if he left it in, people would actually use it a lot, and MacPaint would be regarded as an inadequate word processor instead of a great drawing program. It was probably the right decision, although I didn't think so at the time. I was amazed that he was able to detach himself from all the effort that he put into creating the discarded feature; I know that I probably wouldn't have been able to do the same."

Constant Integration: Real Artists Ship "We starting doing release cycles that were only a few hours apart, re-releasing every time we fixed a significant problem."

Pair Programming: Real Artists Ship "At one point, around 2am on Sunday night, I stumbled across a bug in the clipboard code. I thought I knew what it might be, but I was so tired that I didn't want to deal with it. I tried to pretend that I didn't see the problem, but Steve Capps was watching my expression and knew there was something wrong. I also was too tired to sustain a pretense; he grilled me about the problem and then helped me craft a fix, since I was too tired to do it on my own."

Automated Testing: Monkey Lives "The Monkey was a small desk accessory that used the journaling hooks to feed random events to the current application, so the Macintosh seemed to be operated by an incredibly fast, somewhat angry monkey, banging away at the mouse and keyboard, generating clicks and drags at random positions with wild abandon. It had great potential as a testing tool, so Capps refined it to generate more semantically rich events, with a certain percentage of the events as menu commands, a certain percentage as window drags, etc."

Coding Standard: Hungarian "Bud decided that it would be too error prone to try to translate the Hungarian memory manager directly into assembly language. First, he made a pass through it to strip the type prefixes and restore the vowels to all the identifier names, so you could read the code without getting a headache, before adding lots of block comments to explain the purpose of various sub-components.

A few weeks later, when Bud came back to attend one of our first retreats, he brought with him a nicely coded, efficient assembly language version of the memory manager, complete with easy to read variable names, which immediately became a cornerstone of our rapidly evolving Macintosh operating system."

The importance of on-site customers: Round Rects Are Everywhere! "Steve suddenly got more intense. "Rectangles with rounded corners are everywhere! Just look around this room!". And sure enough, there were lots of them, like the whiteboard and some of the desks and tables. Then he pointed out the window. "And look outside, there's even more, practically everywhere you look!". He even persuaded Bill to take a quick walk around the block with him, pointing out every rectangle with rounded corners that he could find. ...Over the next few months, roundrects worked their way into various parts of the user interface, and soon became indispensable."
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