Posts written by Matt Mayer

Plans are worthless, but planning is everything

In any software project, a plan is out-of-date the moment it is written.

Imagine: we plan out what features we want to implement for SuperAwesomeProduct for the next 6 months. But then: requirements change, new technical challenges emerge, Bob is sick, the new iPhone 7HD is launched, we decide to remove an entire module, our user testing shows us that our initial assumptions were wrong.

Creating time estimates is also fraught with difficulty. Designers and developers dislike doing them, they are often wildly inaccurate, and clients assume that a rough estimate means a firm promise.

So, if we know that plans and estimates are likely completely wrong, does this mean that spending time planning the future progress of a project, or estimating how much time or money it will cost, is worthless?

Not at all. US President Eisenhower once quoted an old Army saying, “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.”

The process of sitting down to write a plan, and regularly updating the plan, helps promote discussions that will help a project succeed.

When arguing about whether a particular section of SuperAwesomeProduct will take 2 or 6 weeks, perhaps it will emerge that there’s a misunderstanding about what this feature actually does.

When figuring out if Bob or Fred should work on the module, perhaps it will become obvious that we need to hire another developer.

And so on. After three hours of discussion, we have a plan for SuperAwesome Product for the next 6 months. And we file it in a drawer and never look at it again.

ReignDesign attending TechCrunch Shanghai


Matt, Jason and Andreas will be attending TechCrunch Shanghai on Monday 8th and Tuesday 9th June, and guest-blogging for Technode!

As a global entrepreneur gala, TechCrunch Shanghai 2015 aims to build up an opened platform to gather together the most talented startups, medias, venture capitalists and those who have passion on Internet Industry & Startup Innovation.

You can read updates from the event on Technode or follow ReignDesign on Twitter for live updates and photos.

The most interesting parts of Google I/O for developers

Google is currently hosting their Google I/O conference in San Francisco, and have just announced a whole range of improvements to Android and other Google products. In a seven-hour keynote (really? did they stop for drinks?) we got to hear about the new version of Android "M".

With more than 50 new products and initiatives, it can be hard to filter out the noise, so here are some of the announcements that have made us sit up and take notice so far: the ones which will have the most practical impact in the short-term.

  • - A new permissions system, apps will ask for permissions when they need them, instead of requesting all permissions when an app is installed or updated. Like on iOS.
  • - "Doze" should help battery life. It will automatically shut down apps in the background to save power. Like on iOS.
  • - Android Pay will let you pay for physical goods using NFC. Sounds similar to Apple Pay. Like on iOS.

Indeed it seems that over time, Android is becoming iOS and iOS is becoming Android. Rumours about what's coming in iOS9 include a new "Proactive" screen which sounds exactly like Google Now.

It's good for consumers - any "must have feature" in iOS is copied in the next version of Android, and vice versa.

There were some interesting improvements to Google Play too:

  • - You can run A/B tests for your app description and photos
  • - Cloud Test Lab - automatically test your app on hundreds of physical Android devices
  • - Customise your Developer page with text and images to match your brand

We're looking forward to getting our hands on the new tools!

The 21 best Mac tools for developers

At the most recent CocoaHeads meetup in Shanghai, I presented 21 of my favorite tools which I use on my Mac. These are not necessarily specific to iOS development, but they are all tried and tested tools which save me a few seconds, a few minutes or a few hours of my time.

Bartender ($15, keeps your Mac's menu bar tidy, by hiding lesser used icons in a separate menu.
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