The Atlantic magazine just published a great article on The Coming Software Apocalypse. Their argument is that business systems continually fail because the developers lose track of what they are doing at some point during the development. The problem is that many programming tools are so removed from what they create that the developers don’t always understand the impacts of each decision in the code.
The author recommends that programming tools move to a more visual and interactive format so the developer can visualize what the code does and immediately see the effects of any changes.
This is exactly what the Nintex Workflow and Forms Designers do! When you move a text box in a form, we show you how it impacts the rest of the form. When you add or copy an action in a workflow, we show you how the processes change.
You can help us stave off the software apocalypse by creating workflows that are clear, well labeled and minimize confusion.
- Try naming your workflows like the military names equipment: “Approval, HR, Vacation Request”. It’s not sexy and the names won’t grab you like a movie title does, but when catastrophe strikes, being able to find the right workflow quickly will reward you over and over again.
- Keep the title of the action in its name: “Send an email: Workflow started” is much easier to understand in the middle of a calamity that just “Workflow started” or the ever popular camel case “EMWkflwStrt”.
- Put a note in every email so you know where it came from. That way when your workflow starts sending the CEO blank emails, you can quickly figure out where they came from and avoid your own personal end of the world.
Every disaster movie and book has a beginning, middle and end. Maybe your workflows should too. Books use chapters. Movies use acts. Workflows use containers. The “Action set” and the “Branch by stage” actions are great tools for organizing your processes.
- The beginning act in a movie sets up the story and introduces the characters and environment. You can do the same thing in your workflow by writing a clear description, and then collecting the characters (data) forms and connections (environment) into the beginning section.
- The middle act is where things happen. Do this, do that, if this - then do that… You’ll find that the “Logic and flow” actions like “Branch by stage” and “Run parallel paths” are great tools for organizing your workflows into clearly defined sections. Stories may jump around from one debacle to the next and then back, but a good workflow reads like a cookbook.
- The final act is where everyone rides off into the sunset. The apocalypse is still a threat as long as the data’s not stored away, the final announcements aren’t sent, your workflow is still running on a server somewhere.
This may all sound over the top, but the 11 million people (including everyone working at the Nintex Bellevue office) lost 911 service for 6 hours due to poorly designed and documented code running on a server over a thousand miles away. Someone decided that an event counter should have an upper limit of several million. When the system reached that limit, it stopped.