Developer silos considered harmful

News from the Rational Developer Conference

So, developer silos are a bad thing, are they, according to IBM/Rational (see story here)?

Well, yes they are. I remember architect customers of Autodesk describing the normal, dysfunctional, process of putting up a building to me (see story here). After every stage, handover documents were prepared, all the knowledge that wouldn't fit in them was discarded; and the first thing done in the next stage was to recreate everything that had been thrown away in the previous stage, possibly in different words/tools and for different people. Very wasteful and not uncommon in software development too (and very profitable for the consultants helping with the handover documentation - and the recreation of the discarded knowledge).

But that was then, and although it's still going on, it's a reasonably well-understood phenomenon, one that's powering the trend towards Application Lifecycle Management offerings.

Other vendors have "fixed" it - Borland, perhaps, which has now apparently gone beyond mere Application Lifecycle Management. And, more important possibly, standards-based initiatives have addressed it. The essence of the OMG's Model Driven Architecture, for example, is that these manual hand-offs are eliminated by automatically transforming models, rather than rewriting specs.

OK, so IBM/Rational is aware of all this and its Build Forge acquisition helps automate its process. Rational kick-started the current interest in software development process, in fact and I have a lot of time for its development platform already (it's just not the only workable one). But it is already a "bigger, tighter IBM Rational Software Development Platform", and sometimes rather unfairly criticised for being too monolithic. If you use it properly it is agile enough but I'm a little surprised that IBM is apparently pushing the "big platform" aspects of its offering now.

Still, it is a rich offering, now richer still, and it's good to see that Rational perhaps isn't just disappearing into the Eclipse platform without trace. ®

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