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My first book: Smarter Software with Activity-Centered Design

This is a special moment. It is my pleasure to announce that I am about to become a book author. My first book is called Smarter Software with Activity-Centered Design.

There is so much bad software out there. But then there are people and companies that really understand how to make good really software and - in some cases hardware too. These people truly understand what it means to develop software. Hint: it is much more than writing the code.

Since the NATO conference on Software Engineering in 1968, which took place in Garmisch, Germany, numerous methodologies and processes for software development have been created. Most led people astray. Who knows why that is. But then it’s good to see that the good ideas are still around. That includes Test-Driven Development, which was envisioned at the NATO conference in 1968, and also the good ideas from Smalltalk, which is from the early 1970s.

Since then the topic of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) has been research extensively and approaches such as User-Centered Design (UCD) came out of that. Although the focus on the user was a very good one what the user actually wants to do kept a bit in the background. Somehow a lot of UCD seems to be about how the user interacts with the shiny widgets on the screen. Many visual designers have contributed great looking interfaces but still too much software does not what the user wants from it.

A while back I stumbled upon Activity Theory and what has been called Activity-Centered Design since the mid 1990s. I started to research it and it made perfect sense to me to combine those ideas with Acceptance Test-Driven Development and other agile practices and techniques.

The book Smarter Software with Activity-Centered Design explains how to use Activity Theory to create software that makes sense to the user and really solves his problems. Yes, I know… That’s what everybody says. At least it’s the goal. We’ll see what the critics will say in a while.

Because short feedback loops are so important I have opted against my initial idea of finding a well-known publisher and am self-publishing. That allows me to update the book frequently and instead of having a small group of editors or only one, who may not be an expert on the subject, my editors is all of you my readers. The book will initially be available as PDF, ePub and MOBO (Computer and eBook readers) at LeanPub. Once the content has stabilized at bit better it will be made available at Amazon and eventually there will be a print edition.

As this is a software development book there is, of course, source code. For that I will use GitHub with public repositories. That also allows those who are interested in collaborating to fork the sample projects and send pull requests with their contributions. That’s going to be fun :-)

Further is there a dedicated website at http://activitycentereddesign.com and also a corresponding Google Groups, which is open to anyone interested.

I’m excited about all of this and I welcome you to check out the links I have provided.