September 10, 2014 | Written by: Rakesh Ranjan
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When Nicholas Negroponte started the MIT Media Lab, he told students to focus less on writing papers and more on proving by doing. “Demo, demo, demo!” he said. In agile software development practices, the developers focus on producing demo-able code at the end of every sprint. By following IBM Design Thinking you can go even further when designing playbacks and producing generally available (GA) ready code at the end of every agile sprint. This code is not just a demo; it’s a powerful tool for users.
IBM developerWorks follows the same principle by complementing every new article or tutorial with a working code hosted on the IBM Bluemix platform. This greatly enhances a reader’s ability to learn new technology. When you see the concepts in action, you not only get an understanding of how things work, you also get a starting point to make the idea your own and put it into action.
IBM has adopted this model for core development practices when delivering solutions in the cloud. Whatever new features or functions are introduced, IBM makes sure to provide a rich user experience with working sample code. Supplying built-in help and a working code helps users to learn by doing.
With the Analytics Warehouse service in Bluemix, for instance, IBM shows how BLU Acceleration for Cloud technology can be helpful for analytic queries. Users get hands-on experience that leads to a better understanding of how the product and its capabilities can be used to solve business problems.
As an example, look at the R statistical integration capability with IBM Analytics Warehouse service. When you use the service and launch the warehouse console for development of an R analytic model, you will find plenty of showcases and samples that offer a complete view of in-application and in-database analytics.
Instead of spending a lot of time reading about why in-database analytics may be good for your predictive analytic applications, you can play with working samples and walk through the code. This notion of “letting the code speak” is very powerful, as it instantly shows value to the user. This is not a coincidence; it was designed in keeping with IBM Design Thinking.
A tabbed view allows you to switch between code, its output and any other intermediate output this code may have produced. Also notice that when you are engaged in an activity, any help you need is at your fingertips. The built-in context sensitive help panel opens for the exact task at hand.
When you run the in-database code for the sample and you notice that it runs exponentially faster, you might be curious to see the code for yourself, and IBM supplies it for you right there. You can modify that code, save it and run it again. This is empowering, since you’re not just using a new feature, you’re extending it for your own productive use.
Whether you are a teen hacker or an enterprise developer, you can get the same great user experience when you sign up for IBM Bluemix and use one or more services to build your next big idea. Do not forget—demo, demo, demo or die!
Feel free to leave a comment below or connect with me on Twitter @ranjans to continue the conversation.