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Leading A Software Project

I decide to take a leading role in my second year software engineering group coursework project.

Upon arriving back to university after a well relaxed and unproductive Christmas holiday, I flick through the timetable for the first week of term. Functional programming labs, a tutor meeting, software engineering, yada yada yada. All that seems important is the mandatory personal tutor meeting. Everything else looks like regular old lectures. I pull up my CommandAPI project, put on some good tunes and prepare myself for the week to come.

I arrive on campus for my first day of lectures for the year. After meeting up with my friends, we catch up more on the shenanigans that occurred over the Christmas holiday and discuss what lectures we have today. functional programming, followed by software engineering. And that’s when I realise the horrific issue with software engineering. It was being taught by James. Now, normally when faced with a new lecturer, I decide to keep an open mind and go with the flow, however this is definitely going to be a challenge. James and I do not get along (Or rather, I am under the impression we do not get along). James used to be my tutor for a programming project in my first year and we argued a lot and he marked me very harshly for my work. I can say without a doubt that I am not looking very forward to James’ lecture on software engineering.

At five o’clock, I appear outside the mathematics and statistics building and prepare myself for the impending doom that is the software engineering lecture. Upon walking inside, I see James, along with three smartly dressed business people sitting in the front row. He begins his lecture with the typical “introductory lecture” content. What the topics we plan to cover in the term, when the lectures are, how the module will be assessed, and the group software project that is worth 50% of the module. Hold up. A group software project? And we don’t get to pick the teams? Sirens must have been going off in my mind at that moment because something wasn’t sounding about right. We have to work together with six totally random people, some of which aren’t taking the same course that I am taking.

I put the sirens on hold as the three business people give a presentation on the inner details of the project. It so happens that they are the “clients” that the project is for and they outline the basic specification and some pro tips for what to include to get top marks. The moment the lecture ends, my friend looks up the group allocation and sure enough, my name is present in group 8, along with five other unheard-of names. And that’s when I get the great idea to email the group first. If I email the group first, I can be in control of the project! I can call the shots! Things will get off to a great start!

I perform the long 15 minute walk back to my house with nothing on my mind other than to write this email. Upon arriving back, I dash into my bedroom, fire up my laptop which is on 12% of battery and draft out this email.:

Hi all,

I’m Jorel Ali - one of the members in your team for the software engineering module group project.

I thought it would be a good idea to get some sort of chat to collaborate via for the project and thought discord would be a good choice since:

- It has a built in markdown editor for sharing code

- It has channels to organize everything

- It’s available on the web, mobile and desktop (unlike Whatsapp for example)

For those that don’t know what it is/doesn’t have it, you can find out more here: https://discordapp.com/

I’ve created a Discord server which can be accessed here: [link to discord server]

Kind regards,


Of course, I manage to get across the most important thing of all time: we use discord and don’t use Whatsapp. Whatsapp and their useless web interface is definitely not going to be an option I would be pleased with.

Now, I’ve never really been a “leader” before in group-related projects, but for some reason, I felt like taking control. Perhaps it is due to the fact I really hate Whatsapp and I want to make sure we do well. I honestly have no idea where my drive is coming from, but upon creating a discord server, I create channels to introduce ourselves, share resources and include a list of useful links and emails which we may need in the future.

Not long after I create the discord server, all five members of the team join and we seem to all agree that choosing Java would be best, since that is the programming language we are all most comfortable with. To be honest, I am overjoyed. Of course Java is the best programming language and I was willing to fight my corner if they said otherwise. Once that decision was made, I quickly fire up a private GitHub repository in preparation for the real work to actually begin and request that the team members join the repository.

I’m looking forward to working in this group - they seem like a very friendly group of people and most importantly, they seem to be better at report writing than I am, so things are looking positive.

This post is licensed under CC BY 4.0 by the author.

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