Chewy Chunks of Software

The chunk is manageable and fulfilling!

When developing software you have to bite off only what you can chew. An iteration allows you to divide your development efforts into chunks. Each chunk delivers a functional set of features that add value to the application. Better yet, the chunk contains only the functionality that the developers and stakeholders agree can be delivered in a specified time frame and still add value.

Bite off only what you can chew!
The process starts by accumulating a list of everything the stakeholders could possibly want the application to do. This is the menu. Next comes the selection. The stakeholders and development team determine the time frame in which the chunk will be delivered. Is this a quick lunch or a seven course meal? Once that is agreed upon stakeholders and developers negotiate what can feasibly be included in the time frame.

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Getting Started with jQuery Mobile

jQuery Mobile is the balm that soothes the headaches of mobile platform developers.  It provides a way for developers to build a single code base that functions consistently on the most common mobile platforms.  At this time jQuery Mobile supports iOS(iPhone, iPad), Android, BlackBerry, bada, Windows Phone, palm webOS, symbian and MeeGo.  This list represents a majority of the mobile platforms and devices in the market today.  Products developed with jQuery mobile will have a broad audience ready to consume them.

Even better, developers have only to build one version of their application.  Once it is constructed for jQuery mobile there is no need to write it again for any of the other mobile platforms.  A jQuery Mobile application runs consistently on any of the platforms previously mentioned.  This lessens the time developers spend learning the nuances of a platform and allows them to commit more time to the development of their applications.

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A Study in CSS

I have recently set out to improve my skill in Cascading Style Sheets or CSS. The motivation to do so comes from a desire to build web pages that look more appealing than the sites I have built in the past. I’m not a complete novice when it comes to CSS. I’ve been sprinkling it through my web pages for the last few years, mainly at the tag level but never with a unified approach throughout an entire site.

The closest I’d come to a unified approach with CSS had been those style sheets that Visual Studio generated when I used Web Project templates to build a site. My patchwork approach produced patchwork results. The elements that I applied styling to looked great but the rest of the elements looked like dogs. I needed a more comprehensive approach.
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Routine can Save your Sanity

Routine can save your sanity when managing projects. I’m not saying that projects are routine, not by any stretch of the imagination. Projects are full of twists, turns and unexpected surprises that draw on your reserves of energy and sap your stamina. You may be travelling one direction with full momentum when a risk trigger forces you to turn on a dime to address it. No, projects are not routine. That is why it is important to implement routine wherever possible.

A routine can be as simple as the sequence of steps you take to address your email each day. It doesn’t matter if you tackle them all in the morning chronologically or if you group them by sender before an afternoon of responses. What is important is that you approach it consistently. Do it the same way at the same time each day. Then it becomes automatic, something you don’t have to expend energy reminding yourself about.
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Managing Communication

During the lifecycle of a project it is vital that team members and stakeholders have a clear path of communications. If communication paths are not kept in check they will rapidly grow out of control. The communication plan spells out communication paths, appropriate mediums for communication and appropriate intervals for communications.

The project manager must make sure during the construction of the communication plan that all communication needs are taken into account. What will the stakeholders require on an ongoing basis? What information will they need to be comfortable about the progress of the project? How frequently will they need updates on status, risk management, forecast completion, etc.? Defining these types of communication will reduce the amount of ad hoc communication necessary once project execution begins.
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Set Clear Expectations

If you don’t clearly communicate your expectations to your project team and stakeholders you will never have those expectations met. You must define standards for communication and performance and let your team know as early as possible what those expectations are. You must state your expectations to stakeholders explicitly and hold them accountable to those expectations.

In the absence of clear expectations teams and stakeholders will make assumptions about how they are to proceed. You, the project manager, must then compensate for any incorrect or conflicting assumptions which dilutes your effectiveness in managing the project.
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