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ColdFusion: Article

The RIA Team Concept

Maximize developer efficiency

One thing that constantly bugs me on projects is when I am asked to work on the user interface. I can do CSS, but it is, admittedly, not my strongest suit. I can do some graphics work, but not my strongest suit.

My time, and the client's money, is best spent on me maximizing ColdFusion's potential. I am not the greatest at Flash. I can create AS classes to do things like Flash Remoting, etc., but I am not so good at the interface part of Flash. I am aware of my client-side shortcomings and am perfectly comfortable with this.

There are some client-side developers, such as my Flash developer friends, who are more than happy to keep their focus on the client-side and not have anything to do with the server-side of the application. Their time and, again, the client's money, is best spent when they are working on the client-side of the project. These guys are the ones who kick out killer interfaces and deliver some of the coolest things we've seen with Flash and AJAX. All they want from the server side is the data and they'll take it from there, thank you very much.

Some Flash developers and I both understand the value of at least understanding each other's focus though. I can look at their ActionScript and understand what they are doing. They can look at my CFCs and understand what I'm doing. We may not be able to create the same code, but we can understand what it is saying and offer suggestions if something is awry. This is where the server-side developer and the client-side developer can complement each other. We don't have to be able to do each other's job; we just need to have a general understanding of what is going on to be able to fine-tune our piece of the project to fit with the rest of the team.This meeting of the minds is just what "The RIA Team Concept" is built around. A strong RIA Team consists of two to three members: a server-side developer, a client-side developer, and an optional team leader who can coordinate the two sides, i.e., a project manager with some development skills. Sometimes the server-side or client-side developer can fill the team leader role, but not always.

The RIA Team Concept is not radical, but practical. Traditional Web developers have historically been able to code on the server-side and client-side. There are very few developers who are strong at both aspects of Web development. Web developers are traditionally stronger on one side of the coin or the other, but are often called upon to work on both aspects of a project. The RIA Team Concept allows developers to focus their skills where they are the strongest, thereby maximizing value from their billable time.These RIA Teams can efficiently complete projects and maximize value to the client because they are, before anything else, confident in the skills of the other members of the team.

They know that, just as they are able to take care of their piece of the application, their teammates can do just as good a job on their piece. This kind of trust and confidence among team members leads to better communication and better applications because each member of the team knows what the other is looking for from each other. These are non-technical skills that every project team needs to survive and thrive.The benefits of the RIA Team Concept for the client are clear: a better product end-to-end, a faster turn-around, and a much better ROI than previously available. Allowing developers to specialize in an area ensures that they focus on making their piece of the application as solid and efficient as it can be. Each piece of the application is completed faster because developers are allowed to focus their time on their segment of the application. The ROI is increased because the application can be delivered faster and start generating value for the client much sooner than before. The RIA Team Concept is one that can maximize your developers' efficiency and make them feel more like a true team that depends on each other. This provides many benefits for a project because development time is decreased, quality is increased, and value is able to be generated by the project at a quicker rate. These are benefits any project manager, or company, would be glad to enjoy.

More Stories By Andrew Powell

Andrew Powell has been architecting and developing Web applications for over 10 years using ColdFusion, Java, ASP.NET and ASP. His background includes experience running IT Departments for firms in the executive search and aviation consulting fields. You can read his blog on everything ColdFusion, Java, Flex & AJAX at www.infoaccelerator.net.

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