Stephen Freeman Rotating Header Image

News

Correcting "Growing Object Oriented Software"

We appear to have sold enough copies of Growing Object Oriented Software to require another print run (which is nice). We’re allowed to make some minor corrections as long as it doesn’t affect the paging.

In a modern spirit of crowdsourcing, please let us know of anything we should fix in the next round by commenting on this post. We can’t promise we can get it in, but we will try.

Thanks in advance.

London XpDay 7th & 8th December

XP Day

There are still a few places left for the London XpDay, an event designed by practitioners for practitioners.

We’re trying the half-Open Space format again, with a day of prepared sessions (some promising experience reports this year) leading to a day of ad-hoc sessions. This means we can have a conference that’s more responsive to the needs of the attendees in the room—if I want to cover a topic I can propose a session.

And we have some interesting keynotes. Apart from Mark Striebeck, talking about scaling up some agile techniques as only Google can, we’re continuing our tradition of bringing in ”outside“ speakers to trigger discussion. We have Doron Swade (who built the calculating engine in the Science Museum) talking about Babbage, and storyteller Terry Saunders.

Nat and I will also be using the opportunity to launch our book in the UK.

Apologies for the downtime

I’ve just upgraded WordPress in response to this security alert. I should have done it ages ago.

The alert says

Update your WordPress blog before you continue reading this post. That’s how critical this issue is.

so it seemed like a good idea to bring the site down until I had time to deal with it.

Coming up for air (Agile 2009)

Minke Whale surfacing

I’ve been mostly off-line for a couple of months: no blogs (reading or writing), no twitter, no open source (sorry, users), very little chat. That’s because Nat and I have been finishing up the copy editing of our book. We’re very much looking forward to it being done.

With that out of the way, I can start getting ready for Agile2009 in Chicago. I’ll be presenting two sessions on Wednesday:

A busy day, so I hope to see you there.
Agile 2009


Whale photo by René Ehrhardt (CC) 2008

QCon London: Tighten up your Agile technical skills

There’s been some chatter on the interweb recently, from Ron Jeffries and Martin Fowler for example, on the risks of a team adopting
only the ceremonial parts of Agile, without also adopting the “hard” technical practices as well.

Luckily for people with access to London (UK), we have a track at this year’s QCon to address just this point. “Turning on a sixpence — technical skills for Agile development” is targeted at teams that have adopted Agile and are struggling with some of the technical practices. We have a cracking programme full of people who actually know what it takes to deliver and support a system.

I’d like to say that we had great timing on this one because of our special wisdom, but a more likely explanation is that this issue is always relevant because building software really well is just hard.

P.S. On the current QCon London 2009 home page, I find myself cited in the same list as Tony Hoare, Joe Amstrong et. al. This should be treated as an amusing accident.

After XpDay London

Just got home after two intense days of XpDay London 2008. There’ll be follow-up materials posted on our new wiki. This year, Keith Braithwaite tried out a largely open format which was really buzzing by the second day.

In the middle of today’s keynote I was suddenly struck by the range of our community. With only about 100 geeks we were talking about subjects such as type systems, coding practices, theories of categorisation, human perception, organisational structure, market analysis, and clinical psychology. And that’s before we dealt with catching up with industry gossip and general horse-trading. Remarkable.

Speaking in Oslo

I’m speaking at JavaZone in Oslo, on September 17th. I was so impressed last year that I managed to get back in. The topic will be Listening to Test Smells, which Nat and I have been raising for a while.

I’ll only be there until mid-afternoon Wednesday, so get in touch early if you want to meet up, and I’ll miss the remarkable ClubZone evening when the conference overflows into downtown Oslo.

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.

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.

What is going on out there? A Narrative Inquiry project

Joseph Pelrine and I are involved in (or is that “committed to”?) starting up a Narrative Inquiry project with the Agile Alliance under their Agile Narratives programme. This one will be done jointly with Cognitive Edge using the Cynefin approach, here’s their announcement.

I’ve started a Yahoo Group for people who are interested.


What is going on out there?

A proposal for a Narrative Inquiry project within the Agile Narratives Program

Introduction

How does the Agile Alliance find out what’s important to its members, and highlight interesting new ideas amongst all the noise? The activity of finding out is called Sense Making. This proposal is for an experiment to understand how well one approach to Sense Making works and can be applied to the Agile community.

The Agile world is changing as adoption by individuals and organisations grows rapidly. It used to be possible for individuals more or less to know what was going on, but the community has long been too large for that kind of personal network. How do Agile practitioners, novice and experienced, make sense of current practice in the discipline?

One technique is to use personal stories from the community, managed as semi-structured data, to support quantative analysis and to help understand individuals’ concrete experiences. The Agile Narratives Program has been investigating one approach to this technique. This proposal is to start a complementary project in collaboration with Cognitive Edge using their Cynefin methods and SenseMaker tools.

Proposal

We will set up a programme to gather and index brief stories from members of the community about their experiences of adopting and working with Agile software development practices.

Bootstrap. We will start with a session, run at the London eXtreme Tuesday Club, to gather “indexing” topics, questions that the storytellers themselves will use to categorise the stories that they contribute. Cognitive Edge will then set up an initial data-gathering site based on those questions. We can prompt for contributions within the XtC and various Agile groups on the internet to seed the contents of the database. We might also be able to use some of the content from the existing Agile Narratives database.

Pilot. We will run a pilot event at XP2008, based on this data, to trial techniques for gathering and analysing further stories, in the context of a public event. Dave Snowden (founder of Cognitive Edge) will be a keynote at that conference, which will help to attract participation. This pilot will test our approach and should provide enough initial data to experiment with quantative analysis.

First run. We will run activities at with Agile2008 to raise awareness of the program and to gather stories from the much larger group, based on the experiences from the Pilot. We might have enough data by then to attract attention with some early findings, or be able to show how the results change over the week.

Ongoing. Once the project is established, we intend to keep it active as a place to contribute and find stories about Agile practice “in the field”, about practitioners’ real experiences. From time to time, we can re-analyse the data to report trends and surprises.