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Web 2.0 – The Ultimate Collaborative Development Environment?

Web 2.0 is about data exchange and classification. Taking a high-level look at software design process one of areas that is good in theory, that fails in practice is data exchange and classification.

Think about the last software project you worked on – would a new programmer be able to pick up the documentation and work out what is going on? Could they be able to find the documentation? Was there documentation at all?

Documentation is all about data exchange – I bet if you went through your email or project mailing lists you could piece together a decent amount of usable documentation (Implementation decisions, solutions, bug reports etc) – Can Web 2.0 provide the glue to ease the burden of documentation?

Imagine being able to tag bugs and design decisions so searching for a bug returns a link that points to the design documents and comments entered at check-in. This gives the developer background information quickly – and these docs are living and more easily maintainable. As a developer, you don’t have to change to documentation mode – it is already part of your work flow (Other than remembering to enter check-in comments – but you already do that don’t you?)

We don’t necessarly have to limit this to documentation either. Project managers could use it to gauge where the project is at, clients could actually report bugs with out having to learn an obscure bug reporting interface or software terminology. How about timesheets? Add an entry stating you started work at a particular time, and then enter another entry saying you finish at a particular time – tag it wit the project name, maybe what part of the project you were working on – Voila! Or meeting minutes – these often have action items interleaved – tag them and make them searchable. Tag them as completed when you are done.

But I think the best bit is that it wouldn’t require anything more than an email client or a blog-like web interface. EVERYTHING IN ONE PLACE! I know I personally hate having to log in to a different apps for bugs, and meeting minutes etc. We should be letting the software organise our data, and leveraging search.

I think I will be revisiting this one soon…

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