Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Spine of Your Next
Software Development Project

In her book "The Creative Habit - Learn it and use it for life," Twyla Tharp talks about creativity. She draws on her 35-year career as a dancer, choreographer, and businessperson, and tells all of us how we can learn to be more creative. And most of her ideas apply splendidly to the software development industry.

Twyla Tharp defines your project's spine as the main thrust of your effort. It's the engine and drive-train of your project.

Your spine should be the underlying theme that drives you to create your new project. It's the idea that provides your internal motivation, and it doesn't necessarily have to be presented to your audience. You may want your audience to understand your project using a different metaphor.

Tharp tells us not to wander about aimlessly, relishing in the excitement of not knowing where we're going. Creating a spine makes the creative job easier by giving us direction and allowing us to focus on the work at hand.

A spine keeps us from getting lost. We can always go back to the spine, and regain our sense of direction.

Finally, Tharp tells us that having a spine enables her to know when the job is done.

Defining your spine is a great way to start a software development project. Too often, the driving force behind developing new applications is the developers' failure to find the exact program that they were looking for. The mission drifts as development progresses. Feature bloat often creeps in.

A clearly defined spine would solve many of these problems. And a clearly defined marketing spine would help even more throughout the entire software development and maintenance life cycle.

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