Developer Insights – Stories & Analogies

Gaining Insight into Software Development by looking around

Story Poles – Paper Prototypes

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Over the years, I have occasionally seen a mesh of orange. I didn’t know what they were or who put them up. They reminded me of the art of Christo and Jeanne-Claude. Eventually I learned that they were used to indicate the elevations and silhouettes of a proposed building or an addition to an existing building. In Cupertino they are required when someone wants to add a second story to a house. As part of the Design Review process, the story poles must be constructed on the site. The actual poles are wood, metal or plastic frames with orange mesh. Story poles serve as a noticing tool and as a visualization tool. They generally cost between $1,500 and $3,000. Story poles are sometimes known as Ridge poles.


So how does this relate to software development?

  1. How do story poles compare to the standard UI design tools and methods?
  2. In designing a prototype of a system it is relatively quick and easy to try a number of different scenarios, whereas with story poles, the cost of trying a different can be prohibitive. What are the implications of that difference? Would software design be different if it was very expensive to test? Would construction be easier if the hassle of story poles was reduced?
  3. The webbing is specified to be orange.  Why?
  4. At HP, we had a very strong release to release compatibility guarantee. Obsoleting something was very hard. What processes and policies does your group use to change your product in such a way that customers are not surprised.
  5. Does the available architecture software support story poles?
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Written by amckale

February 21, 2010 at 6:22 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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