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For the past year or so, I have been working on a new technique for creating software. I was frustrated with the disconnect between the efforts of development teams (both those I have been on and those I have helped manage) and the outcomes the software was providing when it was actually used.

TDD and other technical practices (exemplified by the Software Craftsmanship movement) are great for validating the correctness and quality of the code, but how do we establish the validity and quality of running software for its intended use? (No, I don’t believe ATDD solves that problem. I’ll dive into the differences in a bit).

Outcome Driven Software (ODS) represents a new way to create software. In short, it is a way to make software by first creating the demonstrative outcomes that will prove validity, then using those outcomes to drive the creation of the functional systems to support them.

Read the rest of this entry »


In the first post, I created the confirmational aspects of a simple event registration web site.  Now I am well set up to use that to drive the functional aspects.

Implement the Functional Behavior

The Existing Event Spec

Let’s look again at the main part of event-spec.js:

  'An Event': {
    'when asked for guests': {
      topic: function () {
      'should return the standard guests':
        function (err, guests) {
          assert.deepEqual (guests,
            ['Bob', 'Sally', 'Tim', 'Joe']);
  'when registering Bob': {
      topic: function() {
        Event.register('Bob', this.callback);
      'should return Bob':
        function (err, guest){
          assert.equal(guest, 'Bob');

Adding Event Registration Read the rest of this entry »

I’d like to introduce a new software development technique that is reminiscent of TDD, but at a higher, feature-oriented level. It’s based on the observation that features have both a confirmational and functional aspect. In brief summary:

  • The functional aspect is the mechanism used to bring about a result
  • The confirmational aspect is what lets the user know that their desires and goals for using the software have been met.

The key to Feature TDD is to build the confirmational aspect first, which then serves as the ‘test’ for the subsequently developed functional aspect. Here are the steps I’ll be using:

  1. Capture vision and intent through literal confirmational representation
  2. Pin output of #1 via test
  3. Make vision templates data-driven
  4. Extract data model and create functional stubs
  5. Implement functional behavior
  6. Use techniques #1 and #2 to create functional user interfaces
  7. Link #6 to functional behavior created in #5

In the post, I’ll cover steps #1-#4. Read the rest of this entry »

It has been said that to be successful in software we need to do ‘The Right Thing Right’. The second ‘Right’ is about Technical Excellence, to which there is already much attention. The first ‘Right’ is more problematic.

Iterations introduced a way to tame chaos by successively asking ‘is this right?’. User Stories and XP’s on-site customer foster collaboration, but that conversation is typically about ‘what the system should do’ with the Product Owner left, in scrum terms, responsible for ROI.

ATDD formalized this concept into a set of system inputs and outputs that are meant to represent that ‘if the system can do this’ then it is assumed that we (the development team) have ‘delivered the right thing’.

There are major weaknesses to this model: Read the rest of this entry »

The “Language Hunting Proficiency Scale” is an adaptation of the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines for language speaking proficiency. In typical Languge Hunting style, it can understood in a fun, easy, “obvious” way using a party paradigm:

ACTFL Level LH ‘Party’ Level LH Description
Novice Tarzan at a Party Single words, short vocab lists
Intermediate Getting to the Party Ask questions and get answers to get needs
met:  “where/when is the party?”, “what should I wear?”, “what
should I bring?”
Advanced What happened at the party? Recount experience, tell story: “Tarzan drank too much
jungle juice and threw a chair out the window, the cops came and took
him to the drunk tank and I had to bail him out”
Superior Why do we have parties? Discuss social, economical, political, culture nature
of why we have parties

Last month, both Mark Seemann and David Bernstein published a critique of TDD based Read the rest of this entry »

Marty Nelson

The Agile Architect

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