Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Developer's version of Maslow's hierarchy of needs

[This was originally posted at]

We all know that there's a list of buzzwords that every app should have - it should be secure, fast, maintainable, functional, and reasonable to build. However, not everything is equal - just like there's Maslow's hierarchy of human needs, there's also a developer's hierarchy of needs. This is how I'd currently rank needs for the an enterprise app:

  1. Functionality - Ignoring security, performance, and anything else, the bottom line that every dev wants to show their client is that the app functions correctly. It the app doesn't even save results or calculate correctly, nothing else matters because no-one will pay for it.

  2. Security - This is really an extension of functionality. An unsecured app can be worse than no app at all.

  3. Build-ability: Can it be built? - I think that functionality trumps build-ability because developers will often learn new languages in order to meet the functional requirements (i.e. a dev learns html in order to functionally create a web app). We'd all love bells and whistles, but if a developer can't build it, it doesn't matter. This is why I'd rank the ability to implement above performance. For example, most developer choose C# over Assembly Language because it's more feasible to program in C#, even though Assembly is obviously faster.

  4. Maintainability - every app must be maintained. If the maintenance is impossible, it will drag everything else down with it.

  5. Performance - Performance is great, but only after all these other needs are met. Who cares how fast it is if the app doesn't do what you want, will likely get hacked, or just is too costly to build and maintain?

  6. Bells & Whistles - Every dev wants to sneak in some awe-inspiring bells and whistles, but as far as business goes, that's last on the list. This is why many development shops lag behind the latest technology, because they view the fancy features it provides as still unnecessary luxuries. For example, an app may not yet have fancy AJAX controls or a flashy GUI because they haven't gotten the more important needs met first. If a team has the first 5 needs met, then they'll be in a much better position to explore the "cool" tricks of the latest technology

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