Thursday, November 02, 2006

Why J2EE Projects Succeed Or Fail

Excellent compilation of main factors for success or failure of J2EE projects by "Raj Kul" at TheServerSide.Com. I whole heartedly agree.

1. Gap between Business Analysts and Technical Architects:
Business Analysts need to translate the business requirements in simple language which can be clearly understood by the Technical Architects. On the other hand, the Technical Architects need to have some understanding on the business domain. Both of them can come up with simple glossary documents covering 'Business Terminology' and 'Technical Terminology' which will help them to understand what the other person is talking.

2. Missing Non Functional Requirements:
J2EE may not help in achieving NFRs in the end. Yes, few parameters can be tuned to achieve few of the NFR goals. Critical NFRs must be clearly understood in the initial stages and should be considered in the Architecture / Design / implementation / QA-Testing stages. Project is considered as failure when the NFRs are missed by huge margins.

3. Architects role:
Technical Architect plays a major role in overall application success. Architect needs to put the application building blocks in place by considering NFRs, possible appropriate J2EE technologies, etc. Architect should evaluate multiple possible options before settling on any one approach including partitioning of application / technology choice (J2EE != EJB) / communication protocols, etc. Architect should deliver detailed architecture and design documents well in advance which can be reviewed and discussed with senior members of team

4. Understanding of J2EE technologies:
Not everybody from the development team is J2EE expert. Few of the members may be new to J2EE and needs to gear / brush up J2EE skills. Simple crash course on the project specific technologies and J2EE best practices will definitely help before the actual development starts.

5. Ongoing code review:
The ongoing code reviews will help to verify that standard J2EE best practices are in place, design patterns are implemented correctly, coding standards are followed throughout the application, etc.

6. Use of productivity tools:
Project teams should incorporate productivity tools in their development environment. These tools can include XDoclet, Checkstyle, PMD, Jalopy, etc. The team should have standard development IDE and build system in place.

7. Continuous testing and QA:
Iterative and incremental development will achieve continuous testing and QA of deliverables. Standard bug tracking system should be in place and quality champions should track the overall progress with respect to quality. Application developer should spend time on unit testing. JUnit kind of unit testing frameworks should be made mandatory in project.

8. Adherence to J2EE specifications:
Project teams need to stick to J2EE specifications and not to the underlying container specific APIs. These APIs are good in short term but in long term they will act as trap and you will loose WORA facility guaranteed by Java / J2EE.

9. Simple but working approach:
Client needs working solution not the big technology stack. Over-designing the applications will not only take more time but will increase the chances of failure. Client requirements can be broken down in small sub systems and releases should be planned in such a way that client will get started on the application early. Even in small blocks when client see the working system, his and development team's confidence will go up and obviously the chances of success will go high.

10. Use of Open Source components:
Do not build everything on your own. There are several J2EE related open source technologies available on web. Use them (after evaluation and testing obviously) wherever possible. You can also modify them if needed for your application needs. This will help in saving development time. For example, displaytag utility can be used as navigational component.