At least some of you reading this must have exposure to Agile
philosophies and XP in particular. I’m hoping to get some feedback and
opinions from you based on your experience with Rails.
Here’s the story: I did a quick and dirty internal retrospective for
ThoughtWorks today. I added up numbers on the Rails projects that
we’ve been doing at one of our big corporate clients for the last six
months. Quite innocently I have demonstrable 10-20x productivity gains
over comparable scope projects that we’ve done with lightweight Java
There’s that damn 10x to 20x productivity boost figure again!
Anyway, the one project we have the best metrics on started with about
5 people doing earnest XP and story cards. After two weeks the team
shrank down to just me and a couple of part-timers and frankly, I
dropped any pretense of doing XP. It was just “crank out features”
mode until it went into QA and bug fixing mode a few weeks later. The
features were invented on the fly based on my understanding of the
problem to be solved or communicated as direct instructions from
stakeholders. Most of them were implemented in as little as a few
minutes or at most a few hours and then refined with client feedback.
(It’s important to note that during this time I was onsite and had
direct access to my customer.)
Right now on the second phase of that project – two developers and
we’re only onsite 1-2 weeks/month. We have new stakeholders, one
project manager and one product manager. The project manager is
working on a detailed functional spec that we use to guide our
development tasks and the product manager does his own prototyping in
Rails and answers questions if we have them.
You know what? I’m pretty happy working from a detailed functional
spec. Since we measure deliverables in terms of days, not months, the
spec never really has a chance to get out of date. We’re implementing
features out of the spec pretty much as they’re written. Easy-peazy…
This isn’t a small insignificant app we’re working on either, it is
designed to scale to thousands of trading partners across the food
So, do you think I am I “getting real” or am I just “getting spoiled”?