Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Speaking The Same Language

The art of successful software development is matching the delivered software to the needs of the users. Achieving this requires that the developers and the users speak the same language regarding the problem to be solved. James Shore has a new chapter called Ubiquitous Language in his upcoming agile development book that summarizes this idea nicely.
Martin Fowler's seminal article on Language Workbenches also has really influenced my thinking. I guess the difference to me is that where Ubiquitous Language is about getting the developers to understand what the users are talking about, Language Workbenches are about building software systems using tools to translate the domain specific language into runnable code.
The foundations of these ideas have to do with human communication as much or more than they have to do with technology. For decades, good consultants have been taught "learn to speak the customer's language". The movement behind domain specific languages is just a formalization of something that has been going on for a long time. I'm pretty sure that Peter Drucker was doing something like this back in 1954 or so...just not using computers.

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