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Developer/Designer Workflow… the hot topic of 2009

Everywhere we turn these days, we are either faced with people talking about the problems relating to the lack of a smooth Developer / Designer Workflow… or perhaps we see some of the many people having the solutions to all hither known problems in that respect… This post is neither…

This picture was taken at the Microsoft Developer TechEd in Barcelona… besides the picture being a slightly interesting in itself, it also reveals something slightly interesting (however coincidental some people would want it to be)…

In their session, Felix, Richard and Ian described how a traditional application should be build… throughout the session referring to it as a workflow with the Developer first and the Designer last… where as Adobe has the opposite practice, namely referring to it as the Design / Developer Workflow and hence perhaps revealing who “owns” the application initiative… I know it’s a weak basis for concluding anything and not submittable as evidence in the court of practices in the case of best vs. worst practices… however, hand on the heart: could there be some truth to this !? Microsoft Developers considers design and experience as “smacking some lipstick on the pig” once the application is finished and providing all its value, not really regarding the user-experience as valuable and the designer-work as value-adding. I shall be honest, when I was mostly a .NET, I would have this bottom up approach to development and the results I made were never great user experiences despite their featureset.

The illustration below depicts how Adobe perceives the application initiative as belonging to the designers, and hence perhaps focusing on the experience more than the data and thus perhaps giving a more user-centric product in comparison to the more data-centric product most Microsoft developers tend to spawn uot these days…

Ref. http://www.adobe.com/resources/business/rich_internet_apps/workflow/

Cynergy Systems has cornered this approach as the “Look First” approach which is based exactly on what it claims… leaving it to the Designers to define the application, leaving it to the developers to “merely” program it… it does make sense seeing that mose clients I have had the pleasure working with have found it much much more easy to understand and reflect on a flat horizontal low-fidelity prototype (referred to in these modern times as a “Wireframe”) than reading Use Case Models, Long Sequence Diagrams, Interpret ORM Diagrams and following User Stories… No bad things to say about either practice, because we still need something such as Use Cases or Stories to drive the development, but the user interface designs are the first requirement document that in my experience makes it possible to get substantial enough feedback from clients to take on feature-altering levels.

I’m not trying to claim anything (yet), but this is one of the many many small indications that there is some truth to the statement:

Microsoft Technologies are great for creating applications – Adobe Technologies are great for creating experiences…

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