Craftsmanship has always been widely admired and appreciated. Anyone can pick up a paintbrush, but few compare to Monet; a wooden chair from Walmart will provide a place to sit, but the beauty of handcrafted custom furniture is undeniable. There is a movement in software to try and capture some of this magic, but with the large amount of truly terrible programs and outright project failures this crusade clearly hasn't yet taken hold. Given that, is there anything more satisfying that completing a project? Whether it is woodworking or software, that feeling of a job well done is beyond compare.
One of my teams recently got to experience this euphoria: Borland TeamDefine 2009 was just released to the market for the first time. TeamDefine is simulation software that helps people flesh out requirements early in the cycle, eliminating time-wasting rework. Agile is all about short feedback loops, so a with tool like this which can deliver both rapid prototypes and gather comments from a wide variety of sources, those feedback loops can get even shorter. Most agile stories are a collection of words with an occasional screen shot; if a picture is worth a thousand words, a simulation is worth a thousand pictures! The earlier a team knows it is building what the customer really wants, the more likely they are to build well-crafted software.
Our team is now using our own product to explore stories, which is very cool. I've been on a lot of different software troupes, but the number that actually got to use what they built as a part of their job is very small. We have had a lot of fun building TeamDefine, and it has developed into a product of which we are unabashedly proud (and are having a lot of fun using). Check it out for yourself by watching the (funny) video below and downloading a free trial. Play with it and let me know what you think!