A lot of the work we do from a software performance engineering perspective can come-off very empirical and scientific. Which is exactly the reason for me writing this blog. SPE, in my opinion, is one of the most exciting and interesting practices as part of software development. It’s rarely seen as having a creative aspect. I would like to put a spin on it that makes it a little more interesting and in some regards a little more life-like.
About a year ago, Nakisa and I sat down to start giving NG life. Out of her work came the biographies of about 25 characters who were a part of R9. Each of these characters represent an actor who uses Blackboard in some capacity as part of his/her daily life. Each is used to tell a story or narrative about those interactions (performance scenarios) with the product.
As we move into 9.1, we are going to be rolling out this aspect of SPE to more then just Nakisa. Each member of the North American team will be working on one or more teams and will be responsible for their contributions to our biographies. I wanted to capture a few notes about this going into 9.1.
I would like for each of the team members to introduce their cast of characters at the beginning of each sprint. Each Performance Engineer will be responsible for preparing their biographies for actors that will be utilized in their performance scenarios and narratives. We will have a team meeting in which each PE will prepare a presentation announcing and introducing their actors. In 9.1 we are looking to have 2 to possibly 3 Spring meetings. We will have 1 meeting per sprint. Characters can be reused across sprints (that’s an expectation) and can even be shared by PEs. Each PE will have to explain how each character will be a part of their work.
Each character will have an avatar. There are many sites out there that will create free avatars based on your input. I’ve put 4 examples below and encourage you to send other examples in if you have them. The reason for having an avatar is to give a visual presence for each character. In my mind seeing is believing.
Next, each character will have a name. We must be able to provide the character with one or more roles for their engagement in the system. Remember, the system is called Blackboard Performance University. It can be changed to a k-12 system if need be, as well as k-20. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a traditional higher education model if the features call for k-12. We will need to understand a few other things about the character:
- How they interact with Blackboard…specifically how/why do they use Blackboard.
- What other actors they interact with (primarily with their associations with Blackboard).
- Their naming convention within clp-datagen
There are two main reasons for building these characters. The number one and most important reason is that our actors make up gen-hierarchy. Each actor needs to be called-out and then built into clp-datagen. We can expand our existing actors and even go back and fix them in previous reasons. The main consumer of this information from a clp-datagen perspective is Cerbibo so that when they are building datagen components, they can easily understand user roles and context.
The second reason is that each character will be used for our performance scenarios (defined in our narratives) so that we can demonstrate a better understanding of how our actors interact with the system.
- Teachers: Curriculum review (workflow), occasional content authoring and traditional student interactions with teacher (when this person is in the role of a student.
- Students: Student feedback and student grading.
- Observers: Review and progress of work.
- Program Chair: Portfolio review and thesis review for her Master’s Degree.
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