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XpDay London Keynote speakers

We’re very pleased to announce our keynote speakers for this year’s London XpDay.

Chris Ambler, European QA Director for games company Electronic Arts, tests some of the most complex software in the world

Daniel Jones and Marc Baker, Lean Enterprise Academy, are two of the most established Lean consultants in the world. Jones wrote, with James Womack, wrote “The Machine That Changed the World”, the standard book on the Toyota Production System.

There’s still time to propose your session.

Travel to XP2008?

In preparation for my (first) tutorial at XP2008, I’ll be arriving at Shannon airport at about 7:30, Tuesday night. If anyone wants to share a ride to Limerick, please let me know. Comment on this blog if you don’t have my address.

Come to Agile2008

The program for Agile 2008 is out and there’s more than enough to do.

Keith Braithwaite and I have been “producing” a track called Committing to Quality which we’re very pleased with. And I have a couple of sessions of my own…
Agile 2008

XpDay London: 11/12 December 2008

We’ve just sorted out the venue (after a couple of bumps along the way) for this year’s event. No details yet, but watch this space.

A busy March

Two conferences back-to-back.

On Thursday 13th March, I’m chairing a track at QCon London called XpDay Sampler. The idea is to build on the long-running success of the XpDay and run some of our sessions for, we hope, a new audience. We think we have a pretty strong track, finishing with a panel session including Kent Beck—who’s never actually spoken at XpDay but he did turn up unannounced at the first one bringing Swiss chocolate.

On Tuesday 11th, Romilly Cocking and I will be running a new tutorial we’re developing with Nat Pryce on Test-Driven Development with Mock Objects, following on from a successful first run at the last XpDay.

Finally, from the 16th I’ll be at SPA presenting with Mike Hill a taster of our new Examples course, and with Michael Feathers and Meirion Morgan (a quant friend of mine) a very introductory workshop on using a functional language (OCaml) using financial derivatives for our examples.

Example-Driven Development course

Mike Hill and I will be taking our new Example Driven Development and Fit course out for its first spin on March 7th.

It’s about using examples to communicate, to tease out what really needs to be built in a format that everyone can understand, using FIT tables to help the team structure their ideas. We’ve run the core exercise of the course many times now (once with 60 people) and it really helps to test people’s assumptions—and it’s a great ice-breaker.

The course is not about implementation, we don’t crack open any code editors during the day.

We’re running the course in collaboration with SkillsMatter
Skills Matter

Sustainability on XpDay Manhattan

Tired Scientists

Now the dust has settled, I can reflect a little on the recent XpDay Manattan. I was impressed by the quality of the people there, and how everyone pitched in to the OpenSpace sessions, I have vague memories of people trying to sort out J.B.’s life whilst my jet-lag kicked in. Some people came quite a distance to get there, so Joe’s providing a useful service. Unfortunately, Naresh Jain, who was also talking, got stuck on the way home

For my talk, I chose the concept of Sustainability, in its widest sense, partly because I’ve done a couple of project where I end up looking like the picture above. I used a definition from the UN’s Bruntland Commission

[meeting] the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

which sounds to me like a pretty good description of how we should run development teams.

There were so many things I wanted to cover that I ended up doing an Alphabet Talk. That way, if the audience didn’t like a topic there’d be another one along in a couple of minutes. The list is below. Most of the topics should be obvious to a sophisticated Agile expert (like you, dear reader), but there were a couple of points I noticed along the way. First, most of the points are about people, but you still have to have the technical skills to deliver. The other thing I realised (finally) about putting all the data up on the walls is that it’s an invitation to stakeholders to join the team.

Accountability Looking around
Attitude Mistakes
Build Nice (Be)
Continuous Ownership (Collective)
Deming, W. Edwards People over Process
End-to-end Planning
Estimates Quality
Feelings Rest
Fix it Now Retrospectives
Get up from your chair Self-respect
Gold cards Skills
Habitability Transparency
Help (Ask for it) Uncertainty
Initiation, Project (Regular) Value
Initiative Values
Just in Time Whole team
Kaisen XP
Kanban YAGNI
Learning Organisation Zero Bugs

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XpDay filling up

As of today, XpDay London has about 35 places left. Register soon.

At Citcon Brussels

I’m back from Citcon. So a few more notes

Things people have shown

The worst build I ever worked saw…

We had a hallway discussion about some of the difficult build environments we’ve worked on over the years. A bad build can be really unpleasant to work with and a blocker to progress. One project I worked on burned out three developers in a row trying to get a messy build under control.

The discussion reminded me of something I always knew but only figured out recently, that a complicated build is often a symptom of design weaknesses. So when I’m thinking about adding another little tweak to the build to fix a problem, I should first take a look at the code to if there’s a root cause that I should address first. For me, the classical example of fixing the wrong problem is a build that changes the code to set parameters, which means I need to build artefacts for each configuration. Usually this requires lots of copying stuff around, which takes time and is harder to track. The real answer is to have clean artefacts that can deployed anywhere and separate out the per-environment features.

Concurrent builds

As often happens, the most interesting snippet for me was right at the end.
Jeffrey Fredrick talked about how his group has an optimistic, rather than pessimistic, approach to running multiple builds. They run all their builds in parallel, rather than having a pipeline of increasingly complicated tests, and people can check in provided they pass the fast check-in build that catches the obvious errors. The corollary is that people can check in even when there are broken secondary builds, which is a bit shocking to the hard core. Usually, any failures settle down as check-ins ease off towards the end of the day.

The idea is to get feedback as soon as possible, and to avoid the problem that some teams have where it’s hard to get a check-in window because it takes too long to confirm the last one. Of course, they have a culture that makes this work: they’re doing shrink-wrap so their release cycle is longer, they have enough hardware to run in parallel, and I assume that people have the initiative to pick up failed builds and fix them.

XpDay London

The programme is out for “XpDay London”: and I have a couple of sessions.

I’ll be presenting the material that “Nat Pryce”: and I gave at QCon last year on using the tests to help guide your design. We called it “Synaesthesia” because it’s about “Listening to Test Smells”. Sorry for the pun.

I’ll also be running a workshop at the end with “Simon Baker and Gus Power”: to raise questions about the current state of the Agile community. It’s intended to get people fired up ready for the pub discussion that will inevitably follow.