The two challenges that drew me to Agentek in late 2008 were interrelated in the same way that the proverbial chicken and egg are. We had to build a complex, composite, occasionally connected, enterprise mobility application to replace the prior practice of custom, one-off solutions. At the same time, we had to bring the existing development group up to speed on current software techniques, practices, patterns, and processes.
I couldn’t hold off on designing and building the new product until everyone had gotten the DDD religion. In reality, I don’t think I would have done that even if I had the luxury of that kind of time. Concepts like DDD are best learned by doing them with someone who has done it before. Reading books and hearing presentations can get you excited about them, but only doing them helps you actually learn them.
As I prepared for the first meetings with the domain experts (folks from across the organization who had implemented multiple custom solutions and had a good sense of the domain of our new product), I sent out a copy of Domain Driven Design Quickly. I wanted to give them as much of an idea of what I was after as possible up front, but it mostly came down to me explaining it as we were doing it.
We had some great sessions. The white board photos we made in those early days formed a remarkably useful and resilient core of the domain model that is still reflected in the product today. We hashed out much of the [soon to be] ubiquitous language, and we all had a vision of what the new product would be.
Shortly after this, we hired a big DDD advocate (I’m still amazed at our good fortune in finding him. They are rare now, even more so in 2009). With Jarrel and me on the development team, we spread the DDD mindset organically as we built out the product. This seemed like a good and pragmatic approach.
In late 2010/early 2011, the entire development organization went through the blue book, chapter by chapter, discussing the pros and cons of Evans’ approach, where we’ve been effective, and where we haven’t.
What I learned was loud and clear: We would have had a better product and stayed out of the technological weeds much better if we had formally gone through the DDD material in 2009 instead of 2011. I underestimated how much more effective the team would have been if we took the time to build a common foundation of the DDD concepts. It didn’t mean we had to hold anything up. I just should have made it a priority earlier. I wont make that mistake again.