Evolutionary Improvements of Cross-Cutting Concerns: Performance in Practice
This article was published in the Proceedings of the International Conference on Software Maintenance and Evolution, October 2014, pages 545-548.
As industry continues to embrace incremental software development, many projects run into the challenge of incrementally evolving cross-cutting concerns such as performance. To better understand how projects are handling this challenge in practice, we captured experiences from two financial services that made a series of performance improvements over several months. We discovered some commonality in how these projects refine the work, enabling incremental requirements analysis and allocation of work. In this paper, we describe two key aspects of this evolution: refining the concern by breaking it into its constituent parts to drive design tasks and allocating the parts to iterations as the software evolves. Two practices we observed that support this evolution include ratcheting broadened to conceptually describe the refinement approach in dimensions of response to stimuli in a given context and analysis conducted concurrently and loosely coupled from implementation work. This refinement supports ongoing exploration of the problem and solution, and evolutionary development, such as course changes, when new information is acquired.