Monday, June 05, 2006

EDA Lessons Learned - XML Aware Analysts

See EDA Lessons Learned for the list

We backed into this by accident, but our business analysts (report into IT) became very "XML Aware" (i.e., understand XML). This is a huge asset IMHO.

In a perfect world, perhaps this wouldn't be necessary, but in the real world, where projects get delayed this is very useful.

In the height of our panic (development) of the first phase of this system, we had services in varying degrees of completeness with scaffolding all over the place. The scaffolding allowed for some semblance of "end to end" testing.

Certain services were considered "code complete" by development. XML Aware testers allowed us to do black box testing against these services. Analyst started writing test cases with expected XML inputs and outputs. This was translated to XPath assertions, which, in some cases were automated (extension to XMLUnit/JUnit). The analysts invariably found defects in the code complete services. If we had waited to do traditional end to end testing, the project would have been even later.

"XML Aware" analysts had the side effect of making the analysis and design better in a major subsequent phase of the project as designers and analysts were competent in EDA style architecture and XML.

If you are lucky enough to have analysts on your team, I recommend getting them down into the weeds a bit and having them learn XML & the concepts of the architecture style you are using. If nothing else, they will ask one "dumb question" that will make you think. If you are lucky, they will start calling b.s. on you at appropriate times ;)

SOA and EDA make sense to everyone in IT from a high level. Spreading the knowledge of how they are implemented in your organization outside of the development team will result in a higher quality impl.

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