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Pragmatic Web Development

At last week’s Cape Front-end Developers meetup, Mike Jones (@imsickofmaps) of Western Cape Labs and One Less Thing gave a great, opinionated, what-works-for-me talk about Pragmatic Web Development.

Pragmatic Web Development


One of the things that’s core to Mike’s approach is transparency. He talked about openness of communication and honesty, in particular. He shared details of their workflow using Trello boards, adopting the User Voice method (see How we use Trello & Google Docs to make UserVoice better every day

for more details).

Delivering Value

Another point he discussed was keeping a continuous focus on delivering value. The classic user story looks something like this:

As a <user>, I want <feature> so that <value>

Mike’s version looks more like this:

So that <Value>, As a <Persona>, I can <Do Something>

This sounds a lot like a user-centered approach, so it makes me very happy. There’s an expansion on this story format at Feature Injection User Stories on a Business Value Theme by Antony Marcano. Another alternative is looking at Job Stories:

When <situation>, I want to <motivation>, so I can <expected outcome>

Pick + Stick

I think my favourite message from Mike’s talk was “Pick and Stick.” He started by phrasing this as

Stop always starting over

Stop continually reinventing

Start being consistent

This ties in nicely with the most recent Argumentative Morning: Bleeding Edge vs Old Faithful.

Mike talked about the importance of longevity of tools, and how using them for a while lets you become an expert at their use. He said they use one version behind the latest version for many libraries, so that other people have found and fixed the bugs in it by the time his team starts using it. He talked about about how they use Twitter Bootstrap for their front-end because it’s fast and when you search for more information about a particular bit, you get a lot of results for bugs and fixes.

Next meetup

The next Cape Front-end Developers meetup will be at the end of April: keep an eye on the meetup group for more details.