BCS SPA Software in Practice

24th – 26th June 2019

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Made-Making-Maker: (co)operational and artifactual viewpoints of technical practices

A workshop to explore how we can describe and share technical practices more effectively

75 minutes


Mike Hill recently wrote an article about test-driven development (TDD), in which he draws a distinction between its "operational" and "artifactual" outcomes.

"This idea [that the point of TDD is to have the tests] is flawed: it centers TDD around the artifact. ... TDD derives enormous benefit not from the made tests – the artifact – but from the making of those tests – the operation, and how that operation affects the maker." (http://geepawhill.org/pro-tip-test-before-is-operational/)

The misunderstanding that Mike describes in this article is not limited to TDD. Many software development practices are intended to bring operational benefits, but all too often, they get described and evaluated in terms of the artifacts produced. In the software industry, we seem to overemphasise the artifactual viewpoint, and downplay the operational. As a result, we fail to share technical practices effectively.

In this workshop we will explore this issue: look at practices through an artifactual/operational lens, record the effects overemphasising the artifactual viewpoint, and propose ways in which we can rebalance the way we explain and share technical practices.

Audience background

Anyone involved in software development

Benefits of participating

To share stories, lessons learned, and develop techniques for better sharing and evaluating technical practices.

Materials provided

I will not provide any artifacts.


The workshop will be made up of exercises for small groups to uncover examples of where an overemphasis on artifact rather than operation causes problems, find commonalities among the problems, and propose solutions. Between each exercise, we will share the results with the whole group

Detailed timetable

00-10 Intro
10-30 Brainstorm examples: what are the artefacts? What are the operational effects?
30-45 Present back & group examples
45-60 Each group focuses on one example. What are the results of overemphasising the operational? What can we do to counteract that? Create a poster to present to the everyone else.
60-75 Present back. Group the solutions. Are there any commonalities?


We will capture our findings as posters that can be displayed during the conference.

I will blog any interesting conclusions.


  1. Nat Pryce
    Technemetis Ltd.