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Getting Real – Chapter 4

September 18, 2008

In this chapter, 37signals started by informing us that in every application that we will be building or developing, we must look for the big picture.

“What does your app stand for? What’s it really all about? Before you start designing or coding anything you need to know the purpose of your product — the vision. Think big. Why does it exist? What makes it different than other similar products? “

– 37signals.

What the author wants to pin-point here is that we should learn to create vision among ourselves. This vision will direct your decisions, which will also and keep you remain on a certain goal.

“Are we staying true to the vision?”

– 37sginals

We should also remember that functionality is the more concern when it comes in creating an application/software.

I remember one experience of mine during my second year college. Yeah. I remember that experience, or should I say, that err- disaster.

It was our IMPROG3, a programming course, when we were tasked to make a particular system along with the database features for our final project. Shannon Angto and Evan Severino were my group mates during that time. We started to make a Human Resource Management system.

After set of meetings, I was tasked to make a layout of what will the systems looks like. So I made it – from buttons, forms, etc. I was proud of myself that I was able to make a layout that may look compelling for the users who will actually use it.

Here’s some screen shot of what I actually spent a lot time working out:

Talk about being nostalgic! Yay! Stop reminiscing ~X(

Now here’s come the sad part. It almost took me a week to make the user interface. It’s almost the deadline when I haven’t started to fix it’s functionality. Aarrgh. Sleepless nights!

We sooner found that the ones were actually building is almost a full-blown HR management system. Our only task was to make an attendance tracker, plus, a system that will create, edit, and delete employee information.

Here comes the more sadder part. We weren’t able to run the system completely, we were still lacking a LOT of validations, and we were still experiencing error problems along the way. We end up making the UI more likely to be 110%, while functionality – 40% to 50%.

Because I did focus too much in designing the user interface, the group ended up cramming – even on that last day of submission of projects. I have I also remember that time when we stay the whole afternoon in the class to fix a lot of bugs. Aarrgh. I can still remember that time when I haven’t eaten my breakfast – even my lunch.

What the chapter wanted to say is that we should learn to prioritize ourselves in building application that should be needed in the first place. One thing I’ve learned in that experience is that I should stay focus on what is the scope is all about. I was focusing too much on improving the system more, rather than focusing myself on what was really needed to do. I admit it – I was poor in scope management that time. I didn’t realize that we were actually gone too far.

Do things smarter – not harder. I will always remember that. You should learn to appreciate first in making smaller projects than focusing too much for bigger ones. Once you have done your part in making that small project, you could start improving it and later, face yourself for more challenging task.

Don’t waste on time figuring out a certain problem that isn’t existing yet. It is better to stick first on what was really happening. Once you resolve these problems, learn to respond on other problems that you’ll be encountering, one by one.

The chapter also explains that we should learn to choose our customers – people who will put an interest of using the system. I know that we cannot please everyone. Choosing the right people is the next step of developing your character and your systems as well, to be on greater heights. I learned that you should be doing things because you just want others to please your work. You do things because you will benefit on it. You work on things because it represents you.

Overall, there is one thing what the author want us to understand – seeing the big picture maintains our focus in setting our goals and decisions directly on one side. We keep on the usual phase that we are doing – no distractions or whatsoever. Everything is on track.

Set your priorities first. Before anything else, you should learn to set things which comes first and which comes last. Take one step out of time. Never skip on things that are important. You must follow on a certain steps so that everything is in order.

Abram. Will you stop it already? Haha.

Thanks for reading. God bless you all.

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