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Blueprint Metaphor [Was: Agile Methods...]

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  • Phlip
    ... Blueprints contain an artificial precision , where only a finished building contains natural precision . Part of reading a blueprint is knowing where and
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 28, 2007
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      Tony Byrne wrote:

      > Dale,
      >> It seems to me that an advantage of blueprints is that they are far
      >> more
      >> precise than are verbal descriptions of the same systems. And with
      >> this
      >> advantage comes a limitation: They are understandable only to
      >> people with
      >> specialized knowledge of both the domain and the modeling language
      >> in which
      >> the blueprints are rendered.

      > This is also how I see it, but you've done a far better job of making
      > the point. :-)

      Blueprints contain an "artificial precision", where only a finished building
      contains "natural precision".

      Part of reading a blueprint is knowing where and how not to take it
      seriously. The book /The Fountainhead/, by Ayn Rand, the original Vulcan,
      covers this point well. The taciturn architect hero, sojourning as a
      construction worker, finds someone trying to bend a copper pipe to walk it
      around a girder, and advises him to simply melt a hole in the girder and run
      the pipe straight thru. The professional blueprint had inadvertently left
      this detail up to the handymen who performed the implementation.

      A project should set long-term goals (such as "people don't bunch up in the
      lobby"), and blueprints in their early design stages should _refrain_ from
      making irreversible decisions.

      Anyone serious about design should read the thinner books by Christopher
      Alexander (you know - the architect who invented Design Patterns). Here's a
      quote from /Notes on the Synthesis of Form/. He's using "unselfconscious"
      and "selfconscious" essentially where we'd have "emergent" and "planned" to
      the same results:

      "The selfconscious process is different. The artist's selfconscious
      recognition of his individuality has deep effect an the process of
      form-making. Each form is now seen as the work of a single man, and its
      success is his achievement only. Selfconsciousness brings with it the desire
      to break loose, the taste for individual expression, the escape from
      tradition and taboo, the will to self-determination. But the wildness of the
      desire is tempered by man's limited invention. To achieve in a few hours at
      the drawing board what once took [many iterations] of adaptation and
      development, to invent a form suddenly which clearly fits its context - the
      extent of the invention necessary is beyond the average designer.

      "A man who sets out to achieve this adaptation in a single leap is not
      unlike the child who shakes his glass-topped puzzle fretfully, expecting at
      one shake to arrange the bits inside correctly. The designer's attempt is
      hardly random as the child's is; but the difficulties are the same. /His
      chances of success are small because the number of factors which must fall
      simultaneously into place is so enormous./"

      Author's emphasis.

      I replaced "centuries" with "many iterations" to avoid the need to type in
      all the book's foundational elements.

      -- Wanted: Marriage counselor who also keeps pet rats --
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