In the olden days (say, the 1980s) software 'engineers', as we were called back then, would study a problem exhaustively, devise a strategy to solve it, create a rigid 'waterfall' project plan, and 'engineer' a program.
This engineering approach to software development failed miserably. Turns out, building software isn't like building a bridge. It's more like writing music. You start out with an idea and plink out a few notes on the piano. If you like them, you keep them. If not, you plink out a few more and keep going until you have a whole song.
In other words, you start writing the song without really knowing where you are going or how you are going to get there. You confidently proceed as though you know the song will turn out in the end and somehow, magically, it does! At least most of the time.
In the software world, that's called the 'Agile' method, and that's how software's been written for the last 10 years or so.
From long habit, I used the agile method when I built Cabin Boy. As anyone who's read my Cabin Boy blog can attest, I had no idea what I was doing when I started. I just confidently proceeded as though everything would turn out in the end, and it did!
|Cabin Boy on Launch Day|
This confident, proceed-as-though-you-know-what-you-are-doing approach doesn't work for everything, though. For example, if you wanted to win a chess game from an even mediocre player, it would be a really bad idea to sit down at the board without knowing the rules, first.
You couldn't just say to yourself, "well, I know how to move the pawns, so I'll just move all of those while learning how to move the rest of the pieces."
By the time you moved half your pawns and learned how to move your knights, the game would be over. You'd have to start a new game from the beginning and try again.
The agile approach doesn't work for lofting a round bottom boat, either. I know, because I tried.
|Learning by doing...|
I laid down a few lines (which took hours), but soon reached the end of my knowledge. No problem! I just picked up the BBBs again to see what the next step was.
Whoops! Turns out those lines weren't quite right because of something new I learned.
So I erased them, re-drew them with my new knowledge, and got a bit further before -- hours later -- I had to stop and pick up the books again.
Oh, heck! Turns out those lines were completely wrong!
Oh well. Pull out the eraser. More erasing; more drawing; more wasted time...
To make a long story short, it wasn't working. Well, it was, but it would have taken all year, plus a dozen erasers and pencils to finish. Plus my lofting board was only 3/4" thick. It would be thinner than the iPad2 by the time I finished with it.
|Only thing that comes close to a wooden boat for beauty...|
(I said 'thing', Helena!)
In other words, I learned all the rules before starting the game.
And that's the lesson for today: don't even think about trying to loft a round bottom boat -- even a very small one -- without knowing all the rules, first.
|Learn-by-doing doesn't work for lofting.|
Learn-by-studying does! But I didn't say it was easy!
I wonder how many people today actually know how to loft a round-bottom boat from traditonal plans, like those of William Atkin?
Let's find out. There are about 1500 people reading this blog on a regular basis. Please rate your own lofting skills. Don't be afraid to say 'No clue!' No one will know it's you.
Update: Obviously, I drastically under-estimated the amount of time needed to build a complicated little boat like Vintage! Since there are a ton of things I want to build for the Blue Moon this summer (2011), I've decided to suspend this project until the Fall of 2011. To be continued...