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Langr Software Solutions » ATDD — Main Menu — Home Consulting / Coaching Training - Information About Training - Student Quotes - Technical Training - Process Training Resources - Agile in a Flash blog - Articles - Jeff’s Wiselike Page (Q&A!) - Books Jeff’s Blog About Home Consulting / Coaching Training Information About Training Student Quotes Technical Training Process Training Resources Agile in a Flash blog Articles Jeff’s Wiselike Page (Q&A!) Books Jeff’s Blog About A Story Isn’t a Feature March 20, 2013 by jlangr 3 Comments Your business doesn’t want to hear about how you “delivered stories.” Image source: AJC1, Flickr The business wants you to deliver value, in the form of what they most likely refer to as features. A story should trigger a conversation around a feature request. Your software product doesn’t contain stories, it contains features that help users accomplish goals. Wikipedia describes a user story as “one or more sentences” that capture a user’s needs. Those sentences represent a brief description or summary based on the planning and preparation so far, and they are reminders of the conversation that you must continue to have around the feature you will build. The sentences are not the feature. They aren’t even the full story, in most cases, as it often takes the requester several more oral sentences or even paragraphs to say what they really want. Why Does This Matter? If you think about stories as a simplified form of a requirements document (“a couple sentences”), you’re constraining agile to be a small tweak to how you did things before, with a trendier name. That diminishes the most important aspect of how agile can help you deliver software successfully: Through continual collaboration and oral communication. Without understanding of the importance of collaboration, stories end up being another waterfall-like hand-off document. On another front: Too many teams waste time over the wording of a story. It’s a discussion point, not an artifact. The “standard” story template should help you clarify feature requests by asking you to think about who needs them and why. But otherwise spending time on precise word-smithing of a story writeup misses the point. You’re going to discuss it, and you can iron out any ambiguities as you do. Stories provide only minimal value as an artifact. The ensuing discussion is where the details come out. Unfortunately, most of us can’t fully recall details from a conversation a half year prior, or even a half month prior. Granted, the details end up embodied in the software, but source code more often than not does a poor job of expressing such details concisely and simply. Even programmers must sometimes spend hours to determine just what the code does for the smallest of features. We need a better artifact than the few sentences that represent a story. Many successful teams have found that the best way to capture system behaviors is in the form of acceptance tests, best derived by use of acceptance test-driven development (ATDD) or BDD . The acceptance tests supplant the nebulous conversation with real meat. A test’s name describes the goal it accomplishes, and its narrative provides an example that quickly relates the details of system behavior. The set of test names describes the complete set of designed system behaviors. The tests capture the important detail behind the discussion triggered by the story. A story is not a feature, and it should always trigger a conversation. Search this site Recent Posts The Compulsive Coder, Episode 7: Please AAA November 15, 2016 The Compulsive Coder, Episode 6: this Duplication is Killing Me October 19, 2016 The Consulting Legitimacy Cycle: 4+ years to 2 weeks September 13, 2016 The Compulsive Coder, Episode 5: Extract Method Flow September 7, 2016 The Compulsive Coder, Episode 4: You Create, It Assigns August 30, 2016 Contact Me Name Email Message Submit Langr Software Solutions, Inc. / Jeff Langr I've been there and seen just about everything: Professional developer for 33+ years Consultant helping customers learn and succeed since 2002 Author of five books on software development I can help you with: hands-on TDD mentoring / training / pairing getting your legacy code under control strengthening and growing a successful development process building a successful ATDD strategy with maintainable tests designing / running a distributed development team Want to hear more? Call 719-287-GEEK or use the Contact Me form to the left. Thank you! Jeff Langr Copyright © 2016 Langr Software Solutions. Call +1-719-287-GEEK with any questions or pricing inquiries, or to schedule consulting/training now! Atom