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Frank Cohen is the expert that information technology professionals and enterprises go to when they need to understand and solve problems in complex interoperating information systems, especially Service Oriented Architecture (SOA,) Ajax, and Web services. Frank is Founder of PushToTest, the open-source test automation solutions business, and maintainer of the popular TestMaker open-source project. PushToTest customers include Jackson Labs, eBay, General Motors, TIBCO, BEA, Microsoft and other Fortune 1000 companies. Frank has posted 9 posts at DZone. View Full User Profile

Alan Cooper on Agile Interaction Design

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Alan Cooper impresses me. He has become the spokesperson for the software development community to me. Alan gave the closing keynote talk at Agile 2008. Alan blogged about the event and makes his slides and speaker notes available for download here. Here's what I got from the presentation:

  • The presentation is a crazy 111 slides thick. I suspect this is the outline of Alan's next book brought to slide form. 
  • Alan trashes Waterfall development methodology as a perfect way to deliver bad software. Alan says Waterfall also introduces new problems: provides a way for incompetent people to hide in silo'd groups, obscures management visibility, reduces collaboration, and adds delays to development time.
  • Alan says that Waterfall and Agile recognize that building software is a multi-stage process: Big idea, design, engineering, and construction. Engineering is where technical construction issues are identified and examined. I wish he added operational considerations to be identified and examined in the Engineering phase too. I am a big proponent for repurposing tests as functional tests, load and performance tests, and business service monitoring. Alan describes Construction as the phase where the product is built, tested, debugged, and fine tuned.
  • Alan has a good sense for where Agile is appropriate: Design and Engineering phases benefit from the open, collaborative, democratic, iterative nature of the Agile process. I really like and appreciate his focus here. So what about Agile and the Big Idea and Construction process? Alan says Fragile techniques. Fragile because these phases (especially the Engineering phase) is so lengthy, so difficult, so delicate and hellishly expensive. Alan does not see the use of paired development and other Agile techniques here.
  • The rest of the presentation talks about how Interaction Designers (Cooper's company is all about interaction design) work within an Agile environment. It's compelling.

Very impressive!

Published at DZone with permission of its author, Frank Cohen.

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)


Chris Spagnuolo replied on Wed, 2008/10/22 - 11:28am

I'd have to disagree.  I saw him speak at Agile '08 and at the ESRI Developer's Summit.  Here's my take on Cooper:

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