Pain is temporary, failure lasts forever

Lean, agile living for the running mother of Peter

2008-09-17

Here be dragons

Being a skeptical girl, I've of course seen the movie "Here Be Dragons" by Brian Dunning. But I've also found that the term has some uses in agile estimating and planning poker.

If you haven't seen the film or if you're not into old maps (hm, I meet both requirements): When the old map makers were drawing their maps they did not have the complete picture. Where their peers had been they had some information (though not always true and often enough distorted) but there were those white spots where they knew there was "something" but they did not know what. And there many of the map makers draw the text "Here be dragons", and draw some evil looking creatures on the spots. Hey, no one has been there so there are probably some nasty beasts there.

It is not uncommon during estimation that I feel like those old map makers from the distant past and the developers discuss some features in (very very often) some legacy code, which we want to update or change. So, I put a mental note on those stories: here be dragons!

What that mean is that the estimate is not made by knowing but lack of knowing. We are moving into potentially dangerous surroundings and you never know what will happen.

But are ther dragons there? Well, in the story of the map makers things were not as terrible as they hoped or feared. But in the world of software development, there are more often than not some nasty dragon figures in legacy code.

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