Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Case for Planned Reuse

In my last post, I argued that the concept of ‘accidental services’ or ‘build it and they will come’ is a bad idea – because … they typically don’t come. Services that are created with a very specific consumer in mind are typically limited in capability, scope and result in limited reuse.

The MomentumSI Harmony method suggests that service analysis be performed on the first consumer’s needs as well as potential consumers that aren’t in the immediate scope. This is easier said than done. How do you identify the requirements of a service if you have ‘phantom consumers’?? The short answer is that there are techniques that involve looking at UI models, process models, data models and other artifacts that will give you insight into the domain. The result is a list of potential consumers and a plan for their eventual consumption. The point is that there are techniques to help organizations define services according to a plan – and doing so leads to increased reuse and a better software portfolio.

Again, Planned Reuse is most effective when you’re working in a new domain and you don’t already have a bunch of conflicting/overlapping software that exists. The immediate project might call for an ‘Order Service’, but you know that the service will eventually be called by the Web eCommerce system, the call center software, the B2B gateway, etc. Those projects aren’t in scope – but you consider their needs when designing the service.

This is all fine, but what happens when you’re analyzing a service for an immediate project that clearly should be called by existing projects/software? This is the case for Expropriated Reuse.

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