I wanted to make calzones for dinner last night. It was getting late, but in my mind I could already see the ricotta and broccoli filling and smell the melted cheese. I usually buy a blob of dough from one of the local pizza places, but this time I was going to start from scratch. The yeast, though, gave me pause: would it rise?
In baking, there’s a concept of proofing the yeast. A baker is never certain that the yeast is still active, and it’s a sad day to anticipate and work on bread only to find a small hard lump of unrisen dough at the bottom of the bowl. So before kneading in flour, the yeast is mixed with water and sugar. If bubbles form, it’s working and you carry on; if it stays flat, you toss it out and avoid heartbreak.
My yeast did foam, but so slowly that I would have been eating my calzones somewhere around midnight. So instead I shifted gears and made soft buttery pretzels, which don’t need to rise for so long, and they were delicious.
What’s the connection to software development? App ideas need planning and proofing, too. There’s little worse than spending large amounts of time and money creating a beautifully finished product only to watch it lie unused. That expenditure might be avoided with development’s form of sugar and water: requirements, design, prototyping, and a minimum viable product. (more…)