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Tips for Integrating Optimization Into the Development Cycle
Testing and optimizing are often just tacked on at the end of the development process. But mixed in judiciously, they can pay major dividends.
by Chris Preimesberger

Posted September 29, 2003

Enterprise application developers often are not optimistic about having to optimize their work while it's being built. In fact, they often would prefer not to think about optimization at all—until the build is as final as it can be.

It's easy to see why. Stopping to test and fine-tune a work in progress is often scowled upon as a foolish waste of time, energy, and company resources, especially in today's Rapid Application Development (RAD) and eXtreme Programming (XP) development worlds. After all, why not just do the build, then test and fine-tune to your heart's content in the final stages of the cycle?

That's a valid argument, but there are also strong opinions against it. In getting the work done as efficiently as possible, IT managers know quite well that every added step in the software development cycle makes an impact, however large or small, on the bottom line of a company's P&L statement each quarter. Too much time spent on unit testing and optimization while in the process can put a significant dent in overhead cost and developer health. However, just the right amount of testing keeps the project flowing smoothly and is more likely to produce an optimum product; the correct balance is the nirvana IT managers crave.

Then again, the customer might have different priorities.

"I find that almost all customers don't even think or ask about performance until right at the end (of the project)," said Matt Jacobsen, a longtime enterprise Java developer currently with Aircraft Technical Publishers in Brisbane, California "All they want to make sure of is that the application works. They usually don't care about whether it works fast, which is what I consider the main criteria of performance."

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