Agile Workshop by Clarke Ching

Last night went to an excellent free meeting at the Yorkshire Extreme programming Club given by Clarke Ching entitled :

Programmers may be from Mars, Customers may be from Venus …
but why does everyone think that Project Managers are from Uranus?

From the title I was unsure of the content, other than it would be about project management. It turned out to be a workshop on using formal conflict resolution techniques to dig into problems in projects to find solutions and to expose underlying patterns – very interesting. This is set of techniques I had come across (I did got to Bradford University which has a well know Peace Studies department that studies just this area) but had not considered their use in project management.

My only concern is that like all techniques unless used in good faith by all it could be just another tool to allow people to prove whatever they intend to prove. However, is his not the type of problems that this technique is intend to be used to avoid (maybe it has to be used recursively).

Certainly warrants a further look as another tool in the project management arsenal.

Another stupid way to waste an hour or two…..

When developing SharePoint add-in try to remember if you put a previous version of the DLL in the GAC or not. I have just wasted a couple of hours trying to work out why a new version of a DLL is not being read from a site collection’s bin directory, when there was an old version in the GAC.

Of course this would not have been an issue if I had been checking the version number properly! A good argument for pair programming to avoid these stupid blind spots

eScrum 1.0

I have been looking at eScrum and first impressions are good. This is not the first Scrum process template for TFS, there is also the one from Conchango.

My feeling over the Conchango one was that it seemed very like the standard MSF Agile template, more a terminology rename. Hence it felt a bit ‘clunky’ to use and not too agile. Sticking to a ‘post-it notes on a white board’  model seemed a better way to manage a Scrum sprint.

Now eScrum provides a revised project portal web site as well as the template, this seems about a light weight as you might managed with a computer based Scrum management, worth a serious look as a whiteboard alternative.

An extreme hour

I went to the Yorkshire Extreme Programming Club last night, the meeting included an Extreme Hour. An interesting experience; the idea is that in an hour you go through a number of 10 minute XP iterations, doing ‘development’ by drawing the solution on a white board.

Yesterday we had three separate groups of six; each with two customer, two developers (pair programming i.e. with one pen) and two QA/testers, and all had to design moon cheese harvesting solutions. 

So did I learn much new about XP? well not sure, but the exercise does show the importance of communication within the group. The problem with running the exercise in a social setting (a pub) is the beer is not condusive to structured thinking, and a subject of moon cheese gives huge scope for fights of fancy – my group ended up on a discussion of whether to out source the production of killer robots (to protect the cheese mine from Clangers – don’t ask how we got to this point) or if the actual robot manufacturing was a task our developers should do (they were not keen to draw 10,000 robots, I cannot think why).

What I would say if you are thinking of running such a sessions is:

  1. Be tight on the time keeping – like a scrum sprint an XP iteration should finish on time, even if features are cut
  2. With six people in a group I would be tempted to have one customer, two teams of pair programmers (four people) and a single tester. This I think would help show the issues of interteam communications 

If nothing else this was a good social evening, so if you are in the area pop along to the next meeting see the web site for details

My Presentation at the Extreme Programming Club

I did my presentation on Scrum last night for the Extreme programming club in Leeds, seemed to go down well. A lively discussion was had on Scrum and a whole bunch of agile issues. If anyone has questions post them on the club forum.

The next meeting on 12th of April an Extreme Hour, an audience participation event on doing an XP project in a an hour – sounds interesting.

Speaking on Scrum

I will be speaking about Scrum at the second Yorkshire Extreme Programming Club meeting next Thursday 8th March at the Victoria Hotel in Leeds.

So if you are interested in a quick introduction to Scrum, or just want to meet other developers in the Yorkshire region interested in Agile methods come along.

New Agile user group in Leeds

I got the West Yorkshire British Computer Society branch news letter today and I saw there is an extreme programming club being set up locally, the first meeting is in Leeds on Thur 8th Feb at Victoria Hotel, Great George St at 7pm. You can find the blog for the group at

I think this is great news, the DeveloperDeveloperDeveloper series of events that I have presented at have shown there is an appetite for community events, so lets hope there is enough interest to get this local group going. I for will will be attending.

I see that the the groups is actually titled an Extreme Programming group, I hope it will be able to extend it remit to all Agile methods, as this is a big area of discussion at the moment. It is an interesting argument whether it is just talk of going agile or agile actually happening – but that is something for this group to find out.

For these who know nothign of Agile methods and want a good overview of the pros and cons listen to the .NET Rocks podcast of the Agile panel at Microsoft TechEd Barcelona 2006

See you at the event in Leeds