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SAP Labs France: New is always better!, by Antoine Clément

As stated by Barney from the TV Show How I met your mother, should we, as developers, consider that “new is always better”?

Every 6 months or so a new framework arise, a new trendy library or approach to the web development that online communities are exited about. It’s not only hard to keep up with such a pace as software developers but also to continuously evaluate the pros and cons of each and every technologies.

SAP has started its User Experience (UX) renewal journey on May, 2013 when announcing SAP Fiori, bringing more light on the UXD group which is responsible for it. At SAP Labs Paris, an UXD Dev.Studio team is contributing to that journey by prototyping the user experiences or design services of tomorrow. Here comes modern web development jungle.

UXD Dev.Studio teams have aligned their work practices to the instabilities tied to web development:

  • Agile workplace: moving desks, writable walls, agility starts with its physical form,

  • Agile processes: the scrum framework has been merge with teams DNA for years and daily stand-up meetings and sprint reviews are the common language for team alignments,

  • Test driven development: unit tests, integration tests, automated tests at the build level are enabling continuous refactoring,

  • Open source: if something already exists that meet your needs, don’t try to reinvent the wheel, having a look at what’s proven is the first step of new feature development.

As developers we are always looking for more efficiency, more reusability, more scalability, better performance … Is this trendy technology better than what we are currently using? What can it bring, should we partially, fully or don’t use it?

UXD Dev.Studio teams have set up an “architecture workstream”. A place where architects and developers can daily discuss about emerging concepts and technologies in order to evaluate their relevance against the actual experience or service being developed.

In some cases, an architecture workstream topic is bringing enough attention so that someone volunteers to build a quick prototype on top of our use cases. Working code isn’t (always) the best argument?

Once a new technology has proven itself valuable for our usages, we use to implement it piece by piece: the most isolated ones first, the most risky then and finally others. Using this approach, we are sure that the new technology is safe to adopt on a large scale before we start doing it without easy ways out.

A set of talks are broadcasted so all developers have a rough understanding of the introduced concepts then deeper knowledge is spread on a peer to peer level.

So far, the agile organization and development practices have enabled adoption of best-of-breed technologies such as Angular, MongoDB, ExpressJS, NodeJS and concepts like promises, micro-services …

If Barney from How I met your mother would have been a web developer he might have said “New is always teaching you something!”.

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