Vertical slice

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A vertical slice from the components of a project

A vertical slice, sometimes abbreviated to VS, is a type of milestone, benchmark, or deadline, with emphasis on demonstrating progress across all components of a project.[better source needed] It may have originated in the video game industry.[better source needed]

The term "vertical slice" refers to a cross-sectional slice through the layers that form the structure of the software code base. It is mostly used in Scrum terminology where the work is planned in terms of features (or stories). For example, as a very basic approach, a software project may consist of three layers (or components):

  1. Data access layer (bottom)
  2. Business logic layer (middle)
  3. User interface layer (top)

In this common approach, a vertical slice means a bit of every layer. Again as an example, a new feature request like "showing x information on main screen" would contain these work bits:

  • Work in the UX/UI that will display the information
  • Work in the service layer to transform the information
  • Work in the database layer to store / fetch the information.

So a vertical slice can be defined as "the sum of the work that has to be done in every layer that is involved in getting a specific feature working." A vertical slice doesn't necessarily affect every component in the software. For example, if the solution contains a web service, it would live in the same "floor" as the UI, and a feature like "supporting login/logout in webservice" that involves only the web service does not require a change in the UI, but the business and database access layers.

Visualizing the layers of a vertical slice.
Begin to show how vertical slicing works.
UX/UI for vertical "Login User" story
Using the Java ATG framework it takes 14 files to make the login work. Tasking is important to get as accurate as you can with estimating.

Vertical User Stories[edit]

A vertical user story encapsulates the action of one function.

Writing Vertical User Stories[edit]

Below is an example of a vertical user story:

As an end user I must be able to log into my company portal so that I can perform the functions of my job.

Acceptance Criteria[edit]

Acceptance criteria are conditions of satisfaction. This story is "done" when the detailed functionalities are completed.

  • Verify that I can log into the system
  • Verify that my login credentials will be remembered
  • Verify that I can reset my own password by clicking the "Forgot Password" link
  • Verify that I cannot navigate back to the landing page without first logging in

Dissected by Layer[edit]

As a developer, you will need to think about every file encapsulated in each layer that needs to be created and/or extended in order to complete this "Login User" story.