Thinkers should Do, too

Posted by Keith McMillan

March 17, 2009 | 2 Comments

I’m of the opinion that those who think should also do. I believe it helps keep us honest.  For years now, I’ve been continually confronted with the curious creature the White Board Architect.  WBAs are great talkers, and their ideas really do make sense, well at least most of the time.  But I’m highly skeptical.

As a practicing architect, I’m convinced I can’t do without the feedback I get by actually using my designs.  If building software is truly creating a theory of how a system should work, then I just need the proof.  I’m a pretty good architect, and I’m further convinced that if I need that feedback, then others probably do too.  Which is why I’m such a skeptic that WBAs can continue to do a good job without getting their hands dirty.

Perhaps I’m not as good as I think I am.  Perhaps all those WBAs out there aren’t as good as they think.  Perhaps it’s both: I’m probalby not as good as I think, they could really use the feedback from trying to consume their own designs.


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Comment by Peter Coffin
2009-03-18 07:28:25

About a decade ago, $VBC had a CRM database designed, with all of the best practices anyone could think of, from the top down, data normalized out to like fifth form, flexible and expandable. They wrote all the software, installed it on some fearsomely-powerful hardware, and started loading data. They loaded 300,000 business entity records the first hour, 100,000 the second, and by end of the fourth hour, it was loading a couple of records per minute and starting to really bog down. And that was the end of that project.

Comment by Keith McMillan
2009-03-18 14:40:50

You raise another interesting point. How sure can you be that you’ve provided the best balance of flexibility, performance and scalability if all you do is deal in whiteboard designs? I certainly can’t…

In $VBC’s case, did they ever determine what caused the performance degradation? Just plain old poorly optimized database?

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