Tag Archives: agile


So last week I was lucky enough to attend XP2010 in Trondheim. It was an intense week with great people and great content. It’s kind of hard to process all this content, but it’s time to try.

After listening to the excellent advice of Ole Christian I attended the workshop of Chris Matts on Feature Injection . It was absolutely one of my best sessions at XP2010 and it turned out to be really relevant to what I’m doing at my current client. I think I’ll be able to use a lot of this when it comes to working with the requirements and really understanding what matters.

After an intense workshop it’s always good to listen to Mary Poppendieck talk about Lean in a nutshell . I’ve heard or read a lot of her stuff before, but she has a really unique way of explaining and selling her point of view. I always learn a lot from listening to her.

Ole Ellnestam and Daniel Brolund rounded off the day in a nice way with Mikado refactoring . It’s an interesting and structured way of doing large refactorings. I’ve done something similar with rolling back changes when I get stuck, but this is a nice structured way to approach it. Now if only my computer hadn’t been acting up I would actually be able to practice it a bit more.

The second day started out with a bang, first with a keynote by Scott Page, then listening to Cory Foy talk about craftsmanship. Head over to the program page of XP2010 to see the videos. It’s really worth the time. While you’re there also check out the talks by Mary Poppendieck and Marcus Ahnve.

Now I must admit that most of thursday was lost to my nerves, as I was holding two lightning talks that day. Of the ones I saw and really liked was the talk of Jonas Follesรธ about the Blackbox Recorder . This sparked quite an interest in the Java crowd, so some started the Java version: Jackbox Recorder . Sadly one of my talks was at the same time as the My Agile Suitcase Pecha Kucha, so I didn’t get to see it. I heard great things about it. Luckily there’s video out.

On the last day, conference fatigue were setting in. But I got a great session of Coding Katas. Interesting to both see other languages and other people code. I really also liked the workshop Cory Foy gave on innovation games. It opened my eyes on how to do facilitation around requirements and features, and tied quite nicely into the stuff from the first day with Feature Injection.

Well, this is just a try at writing down what I remember and process some of the information. I know it’s summary, just let me know if there’s something I should expand ont.

It was really a great conference, like none I’ve attended before. Thank you to all the brilliant people that I met and the organizers.

Smidig 2009 and my talk

Smidig 2009, Norways very own Agile conference was held on October 22nd and 23rd. I have attended it earlier, and this year I was one of the organizers. The entire experience has been excellent, though a lot of work. Others were working a lot more than me, and I reall have to give them credit for beeing such a positive and active crowd.

Tandberg did an excellent effort of providing us with the video equipment, and enabled us to make the videos available. Even though sometechnical difficulties resulted in loosing some talks (mine included), they did an excellent job, and a big thank you to them.

I held a talk on agile deployment (again), due to some last minute cancellations.

Because my talk was lost I decided to put some details here on how you could get the material if you are interested. So:

My own company, Capgemini had 7 talks, which was a really good effort. To see other videos (Norwegian only) go to http://tcs.java.no .

My Javazone talks

My JavaZone talks are available. Sorry, only in Norwegian. I’ve scanned through them and I’m fairly satisfied with the performance. Looks like the Rules engine talk doesn’t have video of us up on the stage. Not sure what happened.

I’ll have to go through them for a little retrospective later. Let me know if you have some feedback.

Here they are:

Disconnected architecture

I was reading an interview with Renzo Piano in this fridays issue of D2. He is one of the most revered architects of our time and is responsible for many great buildings, amongst them the Pompidou centre in Paris which was his first big break through. He is known for his innovative ideas, but also his very good technical and functional execution of the designs. He was interviewed in connection with the Tjuvholmen project in Oslo, and one of the quotes was just spot on (my translation):

My fundamental reason has it’s origins in my builder background. To me, architecture is a craft. You can’t separate the idea of a building from the execution of it, even though a lot of architects act like it. This has been catastrophic for architecture. – Renzo Piano

In the software world there seems to be a notion that you can draw the architecture, and then let someone else design the details. Because it is based on high level ideas and sometimes faulty assumptions it becomes a resistance for building a good solution, in stead of enabling a solid foundation. Stop separating the architecture from execution, and make sure it is something that is flexible and evolves as execution moves forward. In other words: Architects need to take part in the execution to see the constraints the architecture imposes, and see new opportunities for the architecture to evolve into.

I’m not going to go into that rant now, that’s content for another post, but that also means that the architecture must be evolvable. And less code is more flexible than a lot of code. Strangely enough most architectural constraints tend to lead to more code, not less. ๐Ÿ™‚

Agile deployment talk retro

On wednesday I did a talk at the Norwegian Java User Group about agile deployment. The slides (in norwegian) are available here as well as embedded on the bottom of this post.

From the comments and questions I got afterwards, I could see how I should have included more detail. That would have made it even more interesting for that kind of crowd. I probably also should have clearified that I had limited time to prepare and that this was just a slightly extended version of a lightning talk I held at XP Meetup last year. I hope to get the chance to correct this in a JavaZone talk with more details. If you did see the talk and have comments please do leave them at the bottom of the page. ๐Ÿ™‚

Many of the questions I got revolved around the handling of the database, so I just thought I should give some pointers here to articles that better describes what I have been up to:

Check them out if you’re curious.

The new guy and his database

This is a followup to two previous articles about Agile databases and Migrations for Java. It tries to examplify some of the stuff I talk about in those two articles. Here we go again… ๐Ÿ™‚

You won’t get a new developer each week, but the scenario will help illustrate how the tools I have been talking about works. The examples below are loosely based on the previous setup we had in a previous project, but should be general enough to give you an idea. This basically means SubVersion, Maven, Oracle and Ant.

So you have a new developer. Let’s call him John. He’s quite nervous the first day of work, and you wan’t to pair program with him to get him right into coding. Sure he could read the architecture documents, but you will touch upon most of the architecture by working together, so you’d rather just get started.

You sit down with the new developer, and tell him to check out the project from SubVersion.

svn co http://companyrepo/project/trunk project-trunk

The checkout pulls down several Maven projects, with a common parent POM. First things first, so you compile everything and make sure he can use it in Eclipse.

mvn install eclipse:eclipse -DdownloadSources=true

Depending on your location downloading dependencies can take a while. So showing him the coffe machine would probably be a good thing right about now. Everything compiles, and he imports it all into Eclipse.

Now he is eager to have a look at the application, but like most applications your application needs a database. You could probably have settled for HsqlDB or H2 in a test setting, but I prefer to do manual testing on the product that we are actually going to deploy to in production.

So you need to initialize a database. One of the sub-projects you checked out earlier is actually a separate database project. Inside this project is a folder where the scripts for the database resides. On your wiki he finds a description on how to initialize a new database. From the base project he does:

  1. cd dbproject/src/sql/baseline
  2. sqlplus sysadm/syspw@//db:1521/service @create_new_schema.sql johnuser testpw
  3. sqlplus johnuser/testpw@//db:1521/service @baseline_data.sql
  4. sqlplus johnuser/testpw@//db:1521/service @test_data.sql
  5. cd ../../ (takes him to the dbproject folder)
  6. ant dbdeploy-upgrade -Ddb.user=johnuser -Ddb.pw=testpw -Ddb.host=db -Ddb.service=service

Now John has a fully functional database that he can use as his local sandbox for development. I guess a little bit of explaining is in order. In the lines above with sqlplus commands, the first parameter is connection settings. The second parameter is the script to execute, and everything after that are parameters to the script. On line 2 the script uses the inputs to create a user and schema called johnuser and with the testpw password. It also creates tables, triggers, functions etc.

After creating the complete schema in line 2, the baseline data is inserted. I am not sure if this is a good term, but by baseline data I mean data that needs to be there for the system to operate, and don’t change during normal processing. You might have a admin interface to change it, but for most of the time they stay the same. This could be tables holding countries or postal codes.

After inserting some baseline data, it is time to insert some test data in step 3, such that John has something to experiment with right out of the box. This is separated in a script because not all environments will need those data.

The last step is done to upgrade the database to the latest version. See the migrations article for an explanation of the concept. This means that the baseline script is not updated with changes all the time. Every now and again we generate a new baseline from the production database, so we can delete some of the old migrations. Generating a new baseline is something I havn’t really found a good tool for yet, so I get the DBA to do it with some of his tools. It happens rarely enough that for now, I accept that it’s not automated.

That really is the last part of my database articles for now. It is a topic I will probably write more about later as it is something that has been handled poorly in most projects I haven been in. It is also an important part of what I like to call agile deployment that helps us reduce the time spent on deploying, and fixing all those pesky little errors we do when deploying.