Tuesday, January 24, 2006

MDA Skeptic - part 4: Raising the level of reuse


Functions were probably the first widely adopted element of software reuse. Developers loved them because functions made them save their own time, but in a way reuse scope was limited by the application boundaries. OOP promised to increase reuse across the boundaries of a single application, and made it easier to share reusable units between the development team. Still we saw many attempts to build company assets of reusable objects, that simply didn’t succeed. Apparently this was due to the underestimation of two factors:
  • the communication costs of sharing the knowledge

  • the need of a company support, to make developers choose learning somebody else’s code, instead of writing their own.
There’s a bit of game theory in it: every developer could agree that OOP is a good thing, still 99% of the times
  1. coding looks faster than learning

  2. it’s certainly more interesting (developers simply love starting from scratch)

  3. Damn! I can write better code than this!...

Ok. Let’s get back to MDA, here the reuse is aimed to a higher level: platform independence, portability of the model between applications and technologies. To me, it just looks like that the required time to enjoy the positive effects are longer than in other evolutionary steps, and that advantages are expected mainly at company level, while singles and teams are carrying the heavy burden of the adoption threshold (learning curve and so on) without an immediate and/or personal reward. My personal experience (and maybe there is some typical Italian mood here) is that changing people’s attitude is a lot harder when benefits are targeted at a higher level than singles, or small groups.


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