Presented at Smalltalk Solutions '96

Modeling Under Pressure:
Finding and exploiting potent abstractions
when you barely have time to think

Ward Cunningham
Cunningham & Cunningham, Inc.
Portland, Oregon

One can make good models while developing software under excruciating time-to-market pressure. In this talk we show (1) how Smalltalk’s radical modularity allows stronger abstractions to be substituted in place of hastily conceived mechanisms; (2) how planed substitutions can free developers to use what they know now to meet schedules while preparing them to learn what they will need to strengthen abstractions down the road; and (3) how a mostly hands-off management can guide and track such development without regular meetings or lengthy planning cycles.

We offer solutions to many dozens of problems that repeatedly occur in this sort of development. These problem-solution pairs form a “pattern language” of developmental operations [1].We explore how operational patterns link together with the solution of one pattern simplifying the problem presented in the next. We will work through progressively more troubled development iterations where each pass picks up a few more problems and, thankfully, their solutions. Our material will be valuable to developers, team leaders and developmental managers who have found their previous Smalltalk developments hindered by the pressures of time.