Thursday, November 10, 2005

The Job of Architect

In the ThoughtWorks project that I have been working on, there are just one lead and several developers. Even though the lead is normally called "Architect" because that is the term that we use externally, he or she is much difference from what people normally think of Architects.

Rather than drawing all kinds of fancy diagrams and leave to the developers to implement the design (More than once I have heard of this theory that the developers don't have to be highly skilled as long as they do what is told).

In my previous projects, I have been very impressed with the work of our project lead. Highly technical and very experienced, the lead pairs with the team and working out the design decisions with the team. I felt that this is the best way for each member of the team to learn and grow and this is the best way to come to the right decision for the project.

On this project, being an architect turns out to be much more than just leading the development work. The current project involves three different servers posting their interfaces through WebServices and communicate to each other through these interfaces. WebMethods is the data exchange platform so that more services can be added, and there is a CA server for certificate verifications. Because of this, there are a lot of coordination required among the development groups. In addition, the requirement is not clear so I need to help the BA on the story list creation.

So between the development groups technical discussions and requirements gathering, I have not been too active on programming. The worst day was last Tuesday, where I had meeting back to back from the morning to the evening. I have been trying to play catch-up, looking through the code after work. But now I realize that with the code changes everyday, I will end up killing myself and still not able to keep myself up-to-date. So I am now delegating the design decisions to the team and pay more attention to their development practices like pair programming, test driven development, rotation, etc.

The good thing is that with the BA on track with the requirements gathering and story list creation, I get to concentrate more and more on the development.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Two More about China Environment

So here are two more things that I thought worth mentioning.

All the three hotel rooms that I have been staying at have a central control panel by the bed. So to go to sleep you can just press one button, which will turn off all the lights and sets up the sign "Don't disturb" at the door. Pretty cool eh?

Although they don't have an alarm clock.

The connection in China to US is BAAAAAAAAAAD. I did a download speed test the other day and here are the data:
  • ThoughtWorks gforge 0.6kb
  • sourceforge 1.9kb
  • rubyforge 2.3kb
  • 2.7kb
  • codehaus 2.3kb
Doesn't that remind you the good-old days of dial-up? :)

BTW, the connection within China is pretty fast.