While in Deutschland

bundesflagge.gifI have been at Germany for two weeks out of the last month. I took on a task that I thought was theoretically possible, but one where completion under given time and resource allocation constraints was uncertain. The situation called for code developed in a proprietary environment for many months by many people to be ported to another proprietary environment. I took advantage of several software engineering methods, many that I have read about and adopted, to bring about success.

Success in this task was based on several factors that were set in the past. Many of these factors were not and could not be influenced by me. For example, the decision to adopt a highly portable programming language was crucial in the success and ease of the porting effort. Development of the code base started long before I joined the team, and I am glad that the team was steered toward the currently used programming language. Porting an application that is implemented in Visual Basic to a Unix-like environment seems more daunting or even impossible than porting a program that is implemented in C from a Microsoft Windows environment to a Linux environment.

The power of abstraction, interfaces, and separation of concerns were evident in the somewhat rushed porting effort. A well-defined interface of the source environment eased the implementation of the interface within the destination environment. Porting the code was a task of implementing the code’s functional dependencies. After the porting effort was completed, any and all code that is implemented for the source environment could be introduced to the target environment with little to no changes.

I tapped the help of several specialists of different facets of the code base. Specialists of the tools were also helpful. Without their help, the porting effort would have failed. Two weeks is simply not enough time to learn all the details of the code base and source environment, and implement the needed constructs on the target environment. People provided assistance in the form of functional implementation, problem diagnosis, and code examples. We brought about success together. This effort has provided me with a lot of experience, and I hope to find time to write up a couple of postmortems and share the methods that I used to help bring about success.

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