Sebastian De Deyne

Options, Not Roadmaps

∙ #product #projectmanagement

Ryan Singer talked about how they (don’t) deal with roadmaps on the Signal v. Noise blog.

In short: roadmaps are a bad idea because they can create uncertainty, false expectations, and guilt. My favorite argument against long term roadmaps is the uncertainty.

We don’t have a crystal ball. Say we have features A, B, and C we want to build. We don’t know if A is going to work out as planned, and what that would mean for B. We don’t know if we’ll have a eureka in the bathtub one day, and new idea X will suddenly feel much more important than B or C. Or we might start building out B, only to realize that it’s not what we want or it’s harder than we thought and want to bail on it.

That means no explicit promises and no implicit promises either. A list on the wall or in some official strategy document is an implicit promise: “this is what we’re doing next.“ There is no official list of what we’re doing next anywhere in the company.

I strongly believe in not writing down big ideas for a product, because if it really is a good idea it will resurface, preferably multiple times.

That said, client projects are different beasts than homegrown software. Clients expect roadmaps, and there’s less wiggling room for features. You can’t really skip expectations, clients expect them. Mapping client projects is a different puzzle to solve.



Sublime is still sublime

∙ 1 min. read ∙ #editors

I’m trying something new (well, old): Sublime Text. Sublime was my favourite editor for years. It took me a while to not crave Sublime’s speed in VS Code, but Code’s intelligence and extension ecosystem makes it a worthy competitor.

Sublime has a feel that no other editor has. Scrolling, jumping, and typing are seamless. It’s an analog tool in an Electron infested world. I miss that experience, so I’m giving it another go.

I already miss Code’s intelligence, especially with TypeScript, but Sublime feels like coming home. Time will tell if it will last.






Why Do We Interface

∙ #ux #design

“Why Do We Interface?” is a micro-book about interfaces over the ages: from cave paintings to Google Glass to your latest note-taking app. It’s important to understand why we build interfaces in order to get better at building them.

The purpose of any interface, regardless of the technology, is to retrieve, decode, modify, and/or distribute information. […]

The core purpose of graphics in a GUI is not to be pretty The purpose is to be informative.

Some questions to ask yourself when you’re designing an interface:

  1. How does the interface help us retrieve information?
  2. Is it easy to decode the information that was retrieved?
  3. Does the interface allow for easy and clear modification of information?
  4. Does the interface assist in, and clearly declare when it is going to distribute information?
  5. How will this interface redefine what it means to be human?

Number five is a bit too bold for my taste, but the first four are valuable guidelines.

Read the book on whydoweinterface.com.


Dont Get Stuck

∙ #career #productivity

My colleague Brent tells the story of how he got “stuck” at his old job.

I decided to leave because I got stuck, there wasn’t any room to grow anymore. The perspective of being a developer who’s 5 years behind of modern day practices made me miserable.

Even though I’d been advocating within the company to make significant changes, both on a technical and management level; it didn’t seem achievable. We were still struggling to deliver the quality we promised our clients, we were using out of date technologies, I went home almost every day feeling down and depressed.

I believe “we were still struggling to deliver the quality we promised our clients” is what really wears you down. Using out of date technologies might have held the team back in this situation, but isn’t necessarily the root cause.

I don’t regret having worked for that company: I did learn valuable lessons there. It’s ok to be at a place where there’s little or no room for growth, as long as it’s not too long. Watch out, and critically assess your situation from time to time; you might get stuck without even knowing it.

It’s important to evaluate from time to time. Not just your job, but all of your work. Ask yourself how the project you’re working on is going every now and then. What went wrong in the last few months? What are you happy with? Keeping this in check will keep you from getting stuck.

Read the full post on stitcher.io.


A Tale of Client Side Framework Performance

∙ #javascript #performance

Jeremy Wagner measured some performance differences between React and vanilla JavaScript. While I’m not surprised that running your code on bare metal code is faster than a framework, it’s interesting to see some exact numbers.

React and ReactDOM total about 120 KiB of minified JavaScript, which definitely contributes to slow startup time. When client-side rendering in React is relied upon entirely, it churns. Even if you render components on the server and hydrate them on the client, it still churns because component hydration is computationally expensive.

If it sounds like I have a grudge against React, then I must confess that I really like its componentization model. It makes organizing code easier. I think JSX is great. Server rendering is also cool—even if that’s just how we say “send HTML over the network” these days.

Even with server-side rendering, React and other virtual DOM frameworks add loading time because they need to load more code and hydrate the page before it’s interactive.

A vanilla addEventListener callback performs about 40 times faster (!) than an event handled in a React component. React’s overhead worth when you have a lot of complex state, not “simple state” like menu toggles.

Read the full article on CSS-Tricks.