Skip to main content

Implementing Standard Protocols

I am writing this while waiting for the new version of XCode to download and install on my MacBook. This 3.5G install gives you time to run errands, grab coffee, or in my case - write a blog entry.

I often spend time talking about new APIs with executives and engineering teams. Most of the time executives and engineering managers understand the value of a well-designed interface, but when it comes time to fully supporting some standard you get some resistance. Today I'd like to dissect my experience in trying to convince people to sign up for the work it takes to fully support a standard.

90% of the time an enhancement to the API happens because a customer comes in and has an issue that can't be solved with the current set of interfaces. Features creep in one by one and in general the default behavior is to add just enough to solve the problem at hand. From a cost perspective it also makes sense to avoid building things you don't need right away.

In addition to the internal inertia there is also a school of thought of iterative design, except that iterative design is not such a good thing with the API. Companies that have integrated with you aren't so keen on going back and refactoring that piece of code on your schedule.

Signing up for the work to fully support a standard needs to be broken down into dollars and sense. First supporting a standard rather than adding a couple of features has its costs:
1) Standards have elements you don’t immediately need.
2) Standards take away some flexibility
3) It takes longer
4) Someone needs to read and understand the standard in order to implement it.
What are the benefits? Here are some benefits that go beyond engineering purism:
1) the design time put into a standard doesn’t need to be replicated internally
2) a lot of times there are test kits you can use to do automated testing
3) standard protocol generally have a good deal of documentation which eases the burden on the internal doc team.
4) Helping people implement a solution based on a standard will require less support and professional services involvement.
5) Implementing a good standard is good for developer marketing.

While the time it takes to understand and develop full support of a standard are very obvious costs. The benefits need to be explained. The things that worked best for me are #2 and #5. If you find a test kit and can shave time off the release in the testing department it’s a slam-dunk. If there are some apps or companies that already know how to work with a protocol and because of that are going to integrate with your service – that’s another easy win. Still depending on the cost of supporting a standard you might need to consider all five benefits and put a dollar or time value on those.

Good luck defending standards implementation. Remember – it pays off in the end!
Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

SDET / QA Engineer Interview Checklist

After interviewing and hiring hundreds of engineers over the past 12+  years I have come up with a few checklists.  I wanted to share one of those with you so you could conduct comprehensive interviews of QA Engineers for your team.

I use this checklist when I review incoming resumes and during the interview.  It keeps me from missing areas that ensure a good team and technology fit.  I hope you make good use of them.  If you think there are good questions or topics that I have missed - get in touch with me!


SDE/T or QA Engineer interview checklist from Mike Borozdin
If you like this checklist you might want to check out these posts:
Emotional Intelligence in Software Teams  and Good-bye manual tester, hello crowdsourcing!

Highly Effective Software Teams

A few weeks ago our Board of Directors asked me to present my assessment of the state of software.
 I was hired to organize and grow the software team and the directors wanted to know what kind of a team we needed to build.  I was hoping that I can just reference an article somewhere that would give me the answer, unfortunately I didn’t find anything suitable. During my research I did find some great material that will be helpful if your job is to put together a highly effective software team.
A highly effective software team has the following key characteristics: dependable, committed to shared goals, passionate about technology, respectful and compassionate.  These are not limited to technology industry, it can easily apply to finance, medicine, or sports as well.  Below is the summary and references that I found. Dependable If you are creating a software product, you need to deliver your software to your users.  Your users need to know that you are able to solve their problems on …

Two Critical Questions for Your Next Interview

I’ve interviewed probably over 500 engineering and management candidates over the last several years.  There have been a lot of really smart people who have applied at DocuSign, Microsoft and Tempo Automation. A surprising number of them didn’t have a clear answer to these two essential questions:

Why are you interested in joining our team?Why should we be interested in you? 
If you are an applicant, having a prepared answer for these questions is critical.  If you are a hiring manager, you should ask them and have a clear answer to these questions at the end of the first interaction with your future team mate.

In a field where work is somewhat predictable and static, those questions are less critical, but in software development perseverance, ingenuity and focus make all the difference. These are the two main questions that will separate a subpar and a superb hire.

When I discuss those two questions with an applicant I try to go below the surface.  Generic answers like “it says you ar…