Creating Effective Web Applications


Moving Labs starring E-lab and 2Vi

27 03 2006, Michiel van Vlaardingen

Moving Labs is a new concept created by E-lab and 2Vi. It is an initiative to create effective webapplications. The name represents what we stand for: we want to move! We think that in order to create the best webapplications we need to keep moving forward, in our development process we only do the things that get us to the next step. This essentially means that our focus is on the user interface design and on coding instead of specifications and meetings.

Because we do not want to get stuck again and again, we work on a thight schedule of one release every week. Less time just means a smaller application. We can do this, because we allways start with the very essence of the application. If we can't get such minimal system working in a short time, it is not minimal enough. After that we can just keep improving based on experience, intuition and user feedback.

Do you still believe you need to specify everything for your webapplication? We don't! Imagine 10 online photo sharing sites, all well specified. If you look at the specifications they will probably look much alike. So the applications must be practically the same... right... So a great application does not depend on the specification. So how do you build great applications? Well, just try them and improve, ask your users, ask your mom! You won't spend time on features nobody would ever use and you will implement things you could have never imagined at design time.

So we don't do anything up-front and just start coding? No, there is one important catch. You still will have to do some graphical design up-front. Users just don't see the application in a plain HTML prototype without style. Therefore we create the most basic design in a few hours, have a non-functional HTML prototype and just start incrementally adding our code. All of this without ever getting into a state which is worse then the previous one. (Yes you can do that with the proper tools, just add code and refactor when needed).

In the near future we will write more about our projects, the development methods and tools we use to create them.

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