Monday, March 23, 2009

Remember... it all starts small

Recently I have been working on a Windows client VB.NET project. With my client, we took some time to re-design the solution, project files and created layers to handle certain tasks, decoupled interfaces. I took charge of creating a simple database to support configuration and automatic/batch processing of certain tasks.

I opted to use Linq-to-SQL, but still have a separate business layer, and data access objects to talk to the UI. I still favor this approach. It is going slow, but working nicely.

Now couple of sticking points... first of all, I did underestimate the time to integrate the database/business object layer to the existing UI. This is a very small project, at least on my side, don't have any software specification. Made the database model after looking at the existing XML files. Used a Linq-to-Sql Dbml file to generate the model in the code, implemented CRUD's with TDD. Created a test harness, and that good stuff...

The biggest problem is lack of time and testing the UI. Since I took over an existing UI, it wasn't all clear what each button would do, what the states are, where is it going to be stored and such.

Looking a week or so back, what I should have done prior to giving an estimate was put down the UI as I see it, map out the functionality and give a more granular & accurate estimates on how long each task takes. You know you can always write a piece of functionality pretty quickly. But to test it, integrate with the other components of the project, take time and need to be refactored.

And communication is also key. My client is also pressed in time and resources and is running into issues with code integration. We are having a few problems and I am trying to help out as much as I could. Last week not being available for a quick call and not getting feedback threw me off and it was hard to get back to it after that.

On top of it, I got busier with my main task, finding another full time position. At the end of February, the consulting company I have been with laid me off along with a few other consultants due to economic downturn and lack of projects. Fortunately, I was offered a full time position last Thursday and expecting to start full time next week. This is obviously good news and sigh of relief in this economy. I would like to thank all my friends and family during this transition. Their support and friendship really made it happen and gave me focus.

Meantime, I really appreciate the fact that I have a side project to work on and yet stayed (staying) busy, however need to do a better job with giving work estimates. And remember it all starts small...