Coding vs Documenting


Recently I read an article by Dan Kim over at Signal v. Noise, you know, the Basecamp folks.

In this article Dan tells us about a question he got from a student asking what tools he would use to create diagram and other documents before start implementing.

Dan’s basic answer was that they don’t do that at Basecamp. At my job we also put very little effort on the documents and specs, there is a high level specs that is more geared towards the business and some low level specs that focus on the communication between the backend folks and mobile ones.

There are also UI/UX designs and that is what the mobile teams uses to start coding.

Here is my favorite point from his article:

You can draw and draw, but the reality is until you start writing some code or implementing a design, you don’t know what you’re going to hit. Maybe you’ll hit a technical limitation or maybe something just flat out doesn’t work. All the diagrams in the world don’t get you closer to finding out that stuff.

That is exactly how I feel. There are some things you will encounter along the way that no amount of documentation will prepare you for. So your best bet is to start coding to find out what those are.

Less documentation plus coding sooner equal success. It works for Basecamp, it works for us, it will work for you too. Make it part of your process.