Do you spend any time designing before coding?

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#1 wordswords  Icon User is offline

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Do you spend any time designing before coding?

Posted 19 February 2012 - 03:01 AM

Have you ever tried designing your projects before you code? We don't use UML at work, but one of the projects I want to work on in my spare time has the potential to become quite complex, and I thought I'd try and plan it out in UML, just like I was taught at university. However it seems a bit.. wrong somehow, like I should just start coding and work out the design afterwards. What are your opinions?
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#2 no2pencil  Icon User is online

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Re: Do you spend any time designing before coding?

Posted 19 February 2012 - 03:09 AM

I almost always draw out database layouts on my white board prior to touching any code. As well I'll often write up flow charts for user interaction with web projects.
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#3 tlhIn`toq  Icon User is offline

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Re: Do you spend any time designing before coding?

Posted 19 February 2012 - 07:19 AM

The more time you spend planning the less time you spend pulling your hair out, trying to un-paint yourself from the corner, less dead-ends you travel etc. etc.

We preach it here all the time. Please read tlhIn`toq rules in this article, paying careful attention to rules 1, 3 & 5. And thats just for homework. The bigger the project the more planning.
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#4 Shane Hudson  Icon User is offline

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Re: Do you spend any time designing before coding?

Posted 19 February 2012 - 07:31 AM

Definitely. When doing web dev I tend to just work out the semantics in my head (from the design that I get from the designer). But for anything harder than just markup I almost always draw diagrams, even just quick sketches just to make sure I don't make a mess of it!
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#5 tlhIn`toq  Icon User is offline

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Re: Do you spend any time designing before coding?

Posted 19 February 2012 - 07:38 AM

Whiteboards and Omnigraffle are my friends!
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#6 wordswords  Icon User is offline

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Re: Do you spend any time designing before coding?

Posted 19 February 2012 - 10:19 AM

View PosttlhIn`toq, on 19 February 2012 - 07:19 AM, said:

The more time you spend planning the less time you spend pulling your hair out, trying to un-paint yourself from the corner, less dead-ends you travel etc. etc.

We preach it here all the time. Please read tlhIn`toq rules in this article, paying careful attention to rules 1, 3 & 5. And thats just for homework. The bigger the project the more planning.


It wasn't really a homework question. I know that planning is useful for professional projects, and do it all the time. What I was asking is do you apply that professionalism to your hobbyist projects. I usually work with small projects that I can visualise in my head, so I tend not to need to do elaborate designing. But the responses have made me consider planning things out a little more. Thanks to all who replied.
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#7 Atli  Icon User is offline

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Re: Do you spend any time designing before coding?

Posted 20 February 2012 - 04:24 AM

I love just sitting down and starting to code without having any plans, and seeing how far I can get before the whole thing implodes on me :)

Of course, that's not really ideal for work related projects so I only do that on my own time.
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#8 modi123_1  Icon User is online

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Re: Do you spend any time designing before coding?

Posted 20 February 2012 - 10:36 AM

Quote

What I was asking is do you apply that professionalism to your hobbyist projects.

Yes! While I might not be fancy schmancy with whiteboards and whizdongle applications I do have reams of generic white paper with outlines, diagrams, notes, and requirements, and so forth on them. My desk is littered with them.. that and the backs of keno forms... mmm... yes.. nothing beats getting your drink on, scribbling down an awesome idea for an app or update, and leaving notes to future-hung-overself.

I used to keep them filed in brown accordions, but I like the archeological aspect of cleaning off my desk and going through strata of ideas, work, and concepts..
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#9 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is online

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Re: Do you spend any time designing before coding?

Posted 20 February 2012 - 08:03 PM

View Postwordswords, on 19 February 2012 - 12:19 PM, said:

I usually work with small projects that I can visualise in my head, so I tend not to need to do elaborate designing.


Two things I'd say to that. First, if you can visualize it in your head, you might as well write it down - sketch it out on a whiteboard, at least. Then when you're done, check and see if you visualized it like it came out. You might be surprised.

Second, if you can visualize the whole thing without careful planning, you might want to think about trying more ambitious projects.
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#10 wordswords  Icon User is offline

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Re: Do you spend any time designing before coding?

Posted 20 February 2012 - 09:20 PM

My day-to-day job requires a lot of work on complex systems where you have to think through the interaction of different elements on the problem you're trying to solve. We don't tend to sketch things out, we just think them through. Some people are clearly better at it than others. The principle engineer that sits next to me seems to have most of the systems of the department in his head, and is able to field questions on any of them nearly all of the time.

(This is separate from development of new software systems or long-term maintenance projects, where we do go through a planning phase, sometimes a very rigorous one)

This post has been edited by wordswords: 20 February 2012 - 09:31 PM

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#11 modi123_1  Icon User is online

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Re: Do you spend any time designing before coding?

Posted 20 February 2012 - 11:15 PM

@words - even more reason to have things written down... one guy with the Rosetta stone in his head is less than the Rosetta stone written down.
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#12 no2pencil  Icon User is online

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Re: Do you spend any time designing before coding?

Posted 20 February 2012 - 11:26 PM

Especially if that man opens his head & paints the wall with Rosetta stone.
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#13 MrBlueness  Icon User is offline

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Re: Do you spend any time designing before coding?

Posted 21 February 2012 - 12:44 AM

I have tried to write things down, it helps get the outline down. but i always tend to end up with more then what was originally planned !
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#14 wordswords  Icon User is offline

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Re: Do you spend any time designing before coding?

Posted 21 February 2012 - 12:56 AM

View Postmodi123_1, on 20 February 2012 - 11:15 PM, said:

@words - even more reason to have things written down... one guy with the Rosetta stone in his head is less than the Rosetta stone written down.


The principle engineer does write documentation on various systems, he just doesn't pick up a sketchboard when someone asks him a question.

We have another guy who knows a lot, but never documents, and never sketches, and never likes to answer questions. He is difficult to work with, and I find myself writing up notes of what he says quite a lot. If he was to get 'hit by a truck' as we like to say, then the department would have issues.

But this is separate to the designing before coding discussion..
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#15 Nightfish  Icon User is offline

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Re: Do you spend any time designing before coding?

Posted 23 February 2012 - 03:31 AM

Small projects you can just "wing", but as things get bigger, you MUST plan. Imagine 10 people trying to build a house and nobody did any planning but just starting slapping bricks together or digging holes for the cellar. What happens if only one guy understands what really needs to be done and then he suddenly falls ill for a month or two? Or dies? Does the project die with him? Even if it doesn't, everything that was just in his head and not on paper / on a harddrive anywhere needs to be redone.

The thing I'm working on right now is going back to square one for precisely these reasons. And that's after 9+ months. Imagine how much money has been wasted there.
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