What software developers can learn from video makers

HTML5 has benefited from an uptick in adoption over the past year, and with recent industry movements such as Vimeo's shift toward the programming language, it's safe to say that the momentum will likely continue in 2014. HTML5 development has the potential to improve the performance of Web apps, particularly as the diversity of endpoints grows. However, this does not mean that using HTML5 features effectively comes without challenges.

Focusing on video development, HTMLGoodies contributor Nathan Segal highlighted several common mistakes. In particular, he focused on the importance of sufficient planning for graphics-intensive projects. It may be helpful to create a storyboard so that the full scope of the video is understood prior to the start of development. This eliminates the amount of unnecessary content and work that must go into producing an HTML5 video.

While the advice is seemingly straightforward, it's a viable lesson that can be applied to a wide range of programing use cases. For example, developers that start a project without a clear and concise outline for which functionality will be necessary in the final deliverable may spend time writing code that later must be abandoned for more pressing features. Furthermore, creating this clear vision beforehand will give programmers a better idea of how the final piece of software will be used, better ensuring that it meets stakeholders' expectations.

Moving away from "one size fits all"
Another important lesson Segal honed in on was the need to avoid one-size-fits-all approaches. With users leveraging a wide range of endpoints - and each with different levels of processing power - software that is built only for one device is bound to cause frustration. This resembles a larger trend in IT, in which more technical teams are beginning to realize that a single approach will not likely fulfill the needs of every organization or even every department. At the same time, IT must consider how feasible it is to rapidly respond to business needs.

ComputerWeekly contributor Julia Vowler highlighted comments from Mike Wright, group IS director of global insurance broker Willis, who warned against attempting to plan for every potential business need in advance. While some forward-thinking can be beneficial to developers, trying to meet myriad demands that may or may not emerge is a recipe for disaster.

"And then, of course, apart from the bottomless pit of software development, there is the fact that whereas a business strategy can be changed in a single utterance from a chief executive, changing the software that underpins the execution of that strategy is a different kettle of fish altogether," Vowler wrote.

It would be convenient if businesses and IT departments could operate based on an elaborate series of IF-THEN statements, but, unfortunately, programmers do not have total control over their work environments the way they would a program. Therefore, IT flexibility must come from the ability to respond to business needs quickly when they emerge. To this end, leveraging tools such as reusable software components and creating frameworks that reduce the amount of redundancy in technical processes will pave the way for more effective adaptibility.


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