Monday, November 23, 2009

Planning vs Reality - XPM solution, a way of work

When we are planning how we want to work, we imagine a lot of ideal tasks and activities, we plan them in order and then we estimate how long the effort will take.
Everything seems that will perfectly fall in place; ordered and planned. Everybody has its own set of tasks, roles and responsibilities, with different steps or iterations defined.
But then we crash against reality, reality is not an orderly process, reality does not follow strict pre-set plans.

Some time ago a colleague told me something interesting which I applied for many aspects of my life: "Reality is dynamic".
This phrase doesn’t mean we don't need to plan, but it means we also have to manage. Knowing that our ideal plans will not be perfectly followed (not because we don't have an organized team, but because reality won't let us follow our perfect pre-set plan) we have to prevent the differences between the plan, the schedules and the reality. We have to prevent and manage the risks of each task and step.

But how can we do that? We need to measure our performance, we need to understand how we work and what things that can happen during a project which will affect the schedule, the plan and as a result the deliverable time or even make a project fail, are.

Now the questions remain; where do we take that data from? And what can we do with that data?
In order to acquire the knowledge to manage reality, we first need to learn from it. We need to record our results (our work, how long we work in each activity, etc.). However that is not enough, a good team needs to be highly communicated so that every team member can achieve the member’s goals, while at the same time helping the others also meet their objectives. In other words, each member will record his interaction with the project, in order to let the rest of the team know the status of his work. These "things" that "happen" through the course of the project are what we call "work items". We need to record and track the work items in order to acquire knowledge about problems, new ideas, successes and failures at any point of the project.

So, if you read up to here you might be thinking that if we record and communicate we are ready to manage and to plan; well not really. We still need to transform data into information. By transforming the recorded data into information we can study and analyze the "past experience" in order to predict and plan better. Besides, we are better prepared to manage risks and problems, and to manage reality versus plans.

With our new XPM tool, we are getting into a new generation of projects, we are making project management and project planning easier and more interactive.
We are letting team members focus on their real responsibilities (their role tasks) and bringing information to the managers in order to decide better and know more about the team, clients and projects reality.

XPM brings a set of Office add-ins to let all team members (including managers) record their project interaction in a simple way. XPM lets managers plan and manage risks and reality by simply transforming data to useful and rich information.

As a result, we become aware that our working routines need to change, as XPM is not just a tool, but a new way of work.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

My top 5 of GeneXus X Evolution 1

GeneXus X Evolution 1, the new version of GeneXus released a few months ago has many new features, but in this post I would like to summarize them from my point of view, making an overview of the top 5 characteristics and/or features available in this new version.

1) Extensibility: User Controls and GXextensions

In addition to the standard controls provided by GeneXus, you can create your own custom controls! This helps you to build rich, powerful and interactive web applications, giving you the possibility to integrate any control you may need and use it as you use any standard control.

On the other hand, GXextensions gives you the possibility to add packages to GeneXus since GeneXus development environment is an extensible IDE. Patterns for instance are implemented as GXextensions but you can also implement your own extensions like defining new object types, add part to existing objects, define new properties for any object type, add your own menu options and more...

2) Team Development: GeneXus Server.

GeneXus Server is a new product that makes team development easier. The knowledge base can now be centralized by using GeneXus Server, even if its members are in different geographic locations.

Besides, I would also like to mention a new feature that makes a quite complicated task like application customization easier than ever, Change Defender. This new technology helps you to propagate the changes of your Knowledge Base and then import changes done by your customers without loosing any changes you may have made to the Knowledge Base.

3) Developer Experience: A new IDE, integrated debugger and more...

GeneXus provides a new, intuitive, powerful and focused on usability IDE that enhances the developer experience. It also has now a fully integrated debugger, just switch from Release to Debug mode and you are ready to set your breakpoints and start debugging your code. In addition GXflow and GXquery are now fully integrated in the IDE.

4) Enterprise Level Applications:

Full web 2.0, a visualization library based on Google Visualization is available among other extended controls like GXchart, MediaPlayer, QueryViewer, Scheduler and more... Performance optimization in many areas like web and ajax, business logic, http traffic compression, etc...

5) Testing: GXtest

Testing has been an important part within the application development cycle and this new product distributed exclusively by Artech gives you the possibility to automate your tests in a very easy way.

Bonus Track: Completeness! Not only web generators but also GUI (Java, .NET, VFP), Text (RPG, Cobol) and Mobile generators have been added.

I hope that this brief summary gives you an idea of the great new features available in GeneXus X Evolution 1. Now you just need to download it from here in order to convert your current applications or create new ones taking advantage of them.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Welcome to the GeneXus Community blog, where the USA community can share and exchange its experiences among fellow GeneXus users.

This blog is intended to generate communication's within the GeneXus USA community, and any suggestions are welcomed. You will find technical tips, news about GeneXus, general discussions, and much more; but if you want us to cover any specific topic please let us know.

We will keep also posted on the GeneXus USA Wiki and plans to use the Google Wave.

Thanks for your support!

GeneXus USA Team