Getting real with Flickr Matt 08 Aug 2005

12 comments Latest by Online casino btdino

When it comes to getting real, few do it better than Flickr. Adaptive Path’s Jesse James Garrett interviewed Flickr’s Eric Costello and the discussion eventually turned to Flickr’s agile development process. The site eschews functional specs (Getting Real, Step 1: No Functional Spec) and extensive planning in favor of listening to customers, iterating fast, and getting to something real as quickly as possible.

But we also have a very agile development process. We deploy code to the site maybe 10 times a day on a busy day. And we’re constantly adding new features, small and large, even though lately it’s been relatively small features, sadly.

But because we’re quick to develop and deploy new things, and because we have a talkative bunch of users and a lot of places for them to talk to us, we can quickly assimilate suggestions from the community. We can build a feature and deploy it sometimes within a week of hearing a feature request.

So it’s not accidental, but most of Flickr has not undergone a lot of extensive planning. We’re kind of rolling with the punches, which makes it fun. And I think that makes it fun for the users, too.

Eric on Flickr’s iterative process:

We have occasional meetings where we all get together and throw stuff up on the board and hash out what we think are important features to add. When we have a good list of stuff that we want to act on immediately, George Oates, our UI designer, will do some mockups. She’ll bring that to us, and we’ll iterate.

Based on her work we start implementation, starting with prototypes, then iterating and getting feedback from the whole team. Then we release it on the site and listen closely to what people like or dislike about that feature, and make adjustments.

Eric also mentions that Flickr plans to roll out an “order prints” feature soon.

12 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Blake Haney 08 Aug 05

We are developing a few portfolios and blog oriented sites for clients and the flickr API is such a great tool for quick and easy CMS control.

It is also an inspiration on how to build an organic community through solving a simple problem or two simply and watch it grow.

good post.

Dean 08 Aug 05

Flickr’s a wonderful service (I use it too), but why do we still see the “beta” in the logo?

Shawn Oster 08 Aug 05

Interesting post and I appricate the link to the story. It does feel a *little* sneaky though like you are taking a story that talks about agile development and then overlaying your packaged version of agile development, “Getting Real”, as if it can somehow take credit. I understand that you are really just trying to point out examples for people but it felt a very spin-heavy on first reading.

Don’t get me wrong, I really like the whole way your “Getting Real” is basically a slickly packaged “Agile Development For Dummy’s” (no disrespect, the Dummy’s series are pretty great for 101-style material). I’ve been doing agile development for a decade and any way you can get it out to the masses the better.

Rob 08 Aug 05

What Flickr is basically doing is what is known as Tracer Bullet Development (TBD). Indentify, build semi-functioncing modules, use canned data, build and repeat until deployed..very cyclical process..

It sounds an awful like the concepts discussed in “Ship it! A Practical Guide to Successful Software Projects”(an awesome book!)
http://www.pragmaticprogrammer.com/titles/prj/index.html

Its great when a company like Flickr can produce such high quality products using a process like described in the essay.


JF 08 Aug 05

Shawn, we’re not taking credit for Flickr in any way, we’re just pointing out similarities between their development methods and ours.

Anonymous Coward 08 Aug 05

When we have a good list of stuff that we want to act on immediately, George Oates, our UI designer, will do some mockups. She’ll bring that to us, and we’ll iterate.

Based on her work we start implementation, starting with prototypes…

George? She? Flickr /is/ cutting edge.

Megan Holbrook 08 Aug 05

George Oates, our UI designer, will do some mockups. She’ll bring that to us, and we’ll iterate.

Based on her work we start implementation, starting with prototypes…

George? She? Flickr /is/ cutting edge.

Not really. Nancy Drew had a female George character *ages* ago… ;)

Hagbard Celine 08 Aug 05

And yes, George Oates is a she.

http://www.ludicorp.com/team_member.php?id=13

SH 08 Aug 05

Perhaps a more relevant example: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tags/georgeoates/

Anonymous Coward 09 Aug 05

Ooooooooooooates!

BB 15 Aug 05

I LOVE flickr - use it everyday. However, their lack of planning definitely shows in the cumbersome nature of organizing photos. I admire the developers’ “fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants” approach to iterative development, but there are some things that are better when they’re planned properly. I’m just sayin’…

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