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advice on design review!!

 
Joi Saab
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This question is directoed to Experienced (Java/J2EE)Archictects and your insights and advice is highly appreciated. Here's the scenario:
I had applied for a job at startup and they have invited me for an interview and also to do a "design review of their current architecture." Although I have done J2EE design and ejb programming, I have not done any design review for companies. I have several questions:
1. What will the company give me for design review?
{I assume, the company will show me their UML diagrams, class diagrams and even sequence diagrams and I will have to analyze the diagram. Is this basically true? I gather for complex architecture, it could be very complex. How long does an average design review take? }
2. Given the fact that I don't have the domain expertise and only Java/J2EE expertise, how do I go about with the analysis? Are there certain standard procedures that experienced J2EE architects would follow? Do I follow the J2EE best practices, J2EE design patterns and Petstore blueprint as a guide?
3. As a part of design review, what am I suppose to deliver? Will making comments and suggestions be enough or do I have to give them UML diagrams etc. ?
4. Given the fact that both the hiring engineering manager and architects of the current design will be at the design review and ultimately make the hiring decision: how do I tactfully make recommendations so that the manager feels that I am bring in valuable insights & expertise without offending the current architects?
5. Are there any good books or articles that I can read to better prepare for the design review?
6. Any words of wisdom or horror stories that I can learn from will also be appreciated.
thanks a bunch!
--kai
 
sj
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One way of validating the design document is from the system requirement document. There is no guarantee that the person who has made the design has followed certain basic principles/format (ISO 9001).
 
Tina Coleman
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At least they gave you forewarning - I've typically done this cold to candidates, particularly if it's a project that they're going to be working on.
Note: I'm not an experienced J2EE anything, but I am an experienced interviewer, so will approach it from that angle.
1) Referencing the Java Pet Store and being familiar with it and the Design Patterns indicates that you keep up with your field and are interested in doing more than just hacking - that's a good thing.
2) E-mailing them to ask something about their domain so that you might better prepare for the review might also be good - shows an interest in being thorough.
3) Probably making comments and suggestions will be enough, though you may want to be able to sketch some simple UML diagrams to get your point across. The key thing is, can you communicate your ideas, both verbally and via diagrams.
4) Tact will be key: shows ability he to work as part of a team. Don't bend over backwards trying to look at the best side of everyhing, but definitely go for the big picture, rather than the minutia, and definitely state things matter-of-factly (e.g., "we've found that use of the Singleton pattern in these kinds of situations often causes problems in testing").
As far as your approach, again, look at the big picture, and then work your way in. Ask for other diagrams or explanations, if appropriate - it's a two-way communication, so it's also your job to make sure you respect how they do things and that you can work with them.
 
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