Happy, Sad, Evil, Weird: Putting Use Case Planning Into Practice

In part one of this miniseries, we introduced formal Use Case Analysis and a simplified version called Use Case Planning which fits a rapid, iterative development process. That post went over the high-level concepts, and explained how this planning method will help you catch problems with your design before you start to implement.

In this post, the final post of this miniseries, we’ll step through a concrete example so you can see how to put Use Case Planning into practice.

An Example

We'll imagine that we work for a company that is building a multi-tenant Software as a Service (SaaS) platform where people can set up shops and sell products. Tenants will be able to charge their customers through the platform.

We're part of a team that's getting ready to create a credit card payment acceptance feature. It will be a credit card form common to all of our tenants. We'll be writing the markup by hand and using of Stripe for processing cards. We're entering a sprint planning meeting to define the scope of the work to be done and decide how long it will take to build. During this meeting, we'll talk about many different aspects of the billing process.

For the purposes of this post, let's hone in on one specific feature: once a user has clicked Buy, they are presented with a credit card form. We want to plan what will happen when they try to make use of this form.

Let's walk through the Use Case Planning process for this scenario.

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Happy, Sad, Evil, Weird: Driving Feature Development With Feature Planning

Feature planning has to be done early and often. But it can be a complicated process due to all of the stakeholders involved, each with different viewpoints and goals.

What's more, it's easy to overlook key behaviors of a feature, which can lead to expensive and rushed code later. It's usually intuitive to figure what should happen when everything goes according to plan, but what about edge cases? What should happen when a user supplies bad data? A hacker launches a malicious attack on our application? What about when chaos makes the whole system unstable?

In the first post of this miniseries, we'll take a look at one way to get everyone's voice heard in the planning process, including the product owner, developer, designer, and QA engineer. Using this approach, teams can draw on their diverse perspectives to tease out a detailed blueprint of a feature that costs less and performs better.

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Linux Isolation Basics

Note: This is part one of a two part series. Read part two.

In the complex world of modern app deployment solutions, containers have been gaining traction as a popular distribution method. But what are they, and why are people so excited about them? This two part series will look into some of the benefits offered.

First, we’ll look at how isolation is generally used to solve a whole class of problems. Next we’ll look at how containers, specifically, makes isolation more manageable. An intermediate familiarity with UNIX-like systems is assumed throughout.

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ZF2 Modules, Services, and Events

In this post, we are going to explore a few design patterns and architectures that reach into the heart of any ZF2 based application: The ServiceManager, the EventManager, and the Module architecture.

When it comes to building an application with ZF2, your application will be constructed with one or more modules, each of them providing services for other modules to consume. Likewise, these modules can trigger events which allow additional modules to react to things happening within the application at large.

To get started, we will begin with an introduction to the ServiceManager in ZF2.

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Actually MVP

Introduction

In the startup world, there is a lot of talk about building Minimum Viable Products (MVPs). At this point, the concept has become so well-accepted that it has almost become a kind of unquestioned dogma. Yet there is a lot of disagreement about what MVP is exactly, and how to carry it out. Many people in the software industry assume that they know what MVP means, and claim to be using the process, but their production workflow tells a different story.

When it comes to building software, it is often tempting to take an approach akin to building a skyscraper: write the blueprints, obtain the necessary prerequisites, then build it to spec. But software is a quickly shifting market. A businessperson may think she knows what the market wants, and plan and begin a project to meet that desire. But by the time the product is built, the needs of consumers have often morphed in a direction that she could never have foreseen.

In this post, we'll take explore some common misconceptions about MVP, some different ways to approach building one with software, and how to best use this tool if you're the CEO or CTO of a startup, a product manager for an established company, or a consultant.

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