But it works on my PC!

The random thoughts of Richard Fennell on technology and software development

Gojko Adzic is presenting at the next Agile Yorkshire meeting on acceptance tests

February’s Agile Yorkshire is on the 8th. The session will be given by Gojko Adzic on ’Long term value of acceptance tests’ I have seen Gojko speak at a number of events, including Agile Yorkshire, he is always an engaging speaker so well worth the effort to attend. I know I am going to give it a go, but have been really struggling to make Agile Yorkshire as Tuesday nights are a bit busy of late. My diary is just too full!

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Not made it to DDD9

I was busy for the few minutes that the DDD9 registration was open, so did not manage to get on the attendee list, but I have been try to keep an eye on that is going on at Twitter.

The good news is that there are more DDD events on the way

Session submissions are open for Scotland, I have submitted on writing custom build activities for TFS 2010. It is great experience presenting and attending at these events, I really recommend you give both a try.

Also it was announced today there will be a DDD North East in Sep/Oct in Newcastle, keep and eye on the DDD site. This event is being initially co-ordinated by the NEBytes user group so keep an eye on their twitter feed, also Black Marble will be helping out so information will be on our site and twitter feed

Follow up to yesterdays events on ‘enabling agile development with cool tools’

Thanks to everyone who attended yesterdays Black Marble event ‘Enabling agile development with cool tools’, both Gary Short’s and my sessions seemed well received. I was asked if my slides would be available anywhere, well the answer is no. The reason for this is that my session was mostly demo driven, so the slides just set the scene. After a bit of thought, a quick blog post seems a better option;  so this post covers the same basic points as the session. If you are interested in any of the products I would urge you to download them and give them a go. Many are free and all have at least a free fully functional evaluation edition.

So the essence of my session was on the project management/administrative side of agile projects. The key here is communication both inside and outside of the immediate project team. How to we capture and distribute information so it assists the project not hampers it?

Traditionally the physical taskboard, with moving moving some form of postcards around has been the answer. This is a great solution as long as the team is co-located and that there is no need for a detailed on going record of the historic state of the tasks (maybe a requirement for legal reasons, but then maybe a daily digital photo would do?). Anyway many teams find they need to capture this information in some electronic form. In my session I looked at some of the options with TFS2010

What is built into TFS2010?

As TFS has a single work item store you can edit work items with a wide variety of clients. In the box you have tools to edit work items via Visual Studio, SharePoint, Team Web Access as well as the ability to manage work items in Excel and Project.

What if I live in Outlook?

If you want to do all you work item management in Outlook then have a look at Ekobit’s TeamCompanion. This in effect allows you to treat work items in a similar manner to email, and cross between the two. So you can create a work item from an email and vice versa; it also allows the managing work items in batches. This product strikes me was very well suited to an email based support desk or project manager that is meeting or email orientated, maybe dealing with people who do not themselves have access to TFS, just email.

How can I replicate my physical taskboard?

For many teams the capture of the physical taskboard information is the key. I have always found a good way to make sure TFS work items are up to date is to have all the work items associated with the tasks on the taskboard returned via a TFS query and then in Excel, as the daily stand up is done, make sure each task is up to date.

However, some people like to work more visually than that, so in the session I looked at a couple of desktop applications that allow work item management both in a form editing manner and via taskboard like drag and drop operations. These were Telerik’s Work Item Manager and EMC’s TFS Work Bench.

However for many companies adding another desktop application to a controlled IT PC can be a problem so I also had a look at Urban Turtle an add-in to Team Web Access that allows a more visual taskboard approach with in a browser by adding a couple of tabs to those  in the standard Team Web Access product.

But what about outside the team?

All the products I showed in the first half of the session were in essence work item editors, a team could choose to use any or all of them. This does not however really help with getting information out to interested parties beyond the team; for this we need publically accessible Information Radiators. The information on these needs to change over time and be easy to understand.

The output of the team focused tools may be just what you need here, maybe a chart printed out and stuck to a notice board will do, but there are some other options.

The first is that there are a rich set of reports in TFS, available both as Reporting Services reports and Excel charts. Reporting Services is particularity interesting as it can deliver reports to interested parties on a scheduled e.g. the CTO get the project burn down emailed as a PDF every Monday morning. There is also the option to deliver reports to central information sites such as Intranet SharePoint servers for everyone to see.

But what do you do if you want something a bit more striking, something that does not require a person to look on a web site or open their email? Maybe a big screen showing what is going on in the project? I showed two products to do this one was Telerik’s Project Dashboard and the other a version our Black Marble internal BuildWallboard, written using the TFS API.

So in summary, in my opinion the key differentiator for TFS over ALM solutions built for a set of different vendors products is that there is a single store for all work items so a wide range of editing an reporting tools can be bought to bear without having to worry over whether the information you are working with is the going to be passed correctly between the various components of the system.

So again I would urge you that if you use TFS have a look at these product, and the many others that are out there, given them a go and see which ones may assist your process. Remember agile is all about continuous improved isn’t it, so give it a try

DDD9 Sessions announced

Seems yet again my sessions for a DDD event did not excite the voting public; the selected sessions for DDD9 are out and I am not on the list. Again it does look a nice varied selection of sessions. I have tried to see if I can see a trend in what is being selected, but it seems a fair mix between language feature introductions, web technologies, tools and architecture/process/patterns – so something for everyone.

So if you plan to go be quick, the timeline says registration opens later today at 1:37pm

While you are stuck at home due to snow why not vote for your favourite DDD9 session?

The voting has opened for DDD9, As with all the DDD style events the agenda is set by you, the attendees, so get in there any say what you are interested in, it is not as if there is not a great choice this time.

I have a session up on writing custom build activities for TFS 2010 which I hope some of you will find interesting, but I do fear it is a rather specialist area!

So vote early, vote often….

Where can you learn more on Typemock after last night session at NEBytes?

Thanks to everyone who turned out from Rik’s and my session last night at NEBytes. I have not bothered uploading my slides as it was really a demo driven session, but there is a video of a similar session I did at NDC2010

However, if you want to learn more about using Typemock Isolator with legacy system why not attended Roy Osherove’s ‘Be a Legacy Code Unit Test Ninja with Typemock Isolator’ web session next week?

Also I will be doing another web session, similar to last nights, on Typemock and SharePoint on the 1st December.

November Agile Yorkshire meeting “William Hill Agile Case Study”

The title of the November Agile Yorkshire meeting (on Tuesday the 9th) is "A case study exploring how agile methodologies were used to help change the way sports are traded at William Hill forever.". As usual this is a free event and is hosted at the Old Broadcasting house in Leeds starting at 6:30pm and I am sure people will go to the pub afterwards.

I have to go to Edinburgh that day to present at a Microsoft ALM event (still space available if you are in the Edinburgh area) and I doubt I will be back in time. A shame as this subject looks like a very interesting one.

For more details look at www.agileyorkshire.org

Thoughts on the Software Craftsmanship 2010

I have reached my hotel after the days events at Software Craftsmanship 2010 at Bletchley Park and got a chance to write up my thoughts. I had planned to Tweet during the day, but just never got round to it, too busy.

So how was the event? I have to say I don’t think I enjoyed it as much as last year’s event. That is not to say this was not a good event, but this years seemed to focus on hands on programming tasks. This is great but I always feel that I could have been doing this at home, or in a dojo session in the office (not that I do this  oftan enough). Last year the sessions were more Randori Kata format and the group discussion this engendered I found very useful. I think conferences like this are probably at their best when they open your mind to new technique and ideas; yes coding kata can do this, but I feel that a conference needs to focus on the meta level of ‘why do this kata’ and how to ‘best run a kata’ and leave the actual kata sessions to usergroups meetings.

Maybe there should be more sessions on the discussion on how to best evangelise software craftsmanship. Today‘s event was full of people who have already decided a craftsmanship approach is the answer for them and our industry, the big question is how to bring more people with us, especially the group who don’t attend conferences, user group or even try to keep up with current trends. I suppose it is down to all of us who do attend such groups to spread the word, so why not get down to your local group and help improve our industry, if you are in Yorkshire why not try Agile Yorkshire next week? If you can’t make why not try setting up a lunchtime coding dojo – there are loads of ideas out there on the web.