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Showing posts from 2013

It may take two to tango, but it takes four to CI...

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One of the most common conversations that I have with clients is about continuous integration (CI) - the discipline of pulling together work done as often as possible, usually after code checkin to verify that the project is still on track (ie "it works").

So how many environments do you need in order to get real benefit from CI? Unfortunately the answer is a fuzzy "It depends...". But I always recommend at least 4 for safety/effectiveness. The good news is that if you do it right, downstream environments are relatively cheap to add as the need arises.




(I have lost track of how many times I have drawn this diagram in various forms for clients, both in formal training and informal conversations. I am quite glad that I have finally managed to capture it onto one A4 sheet!)

So what have we got here?

Build & unit test
This is the initial stage, normally triggered by a developer checking code into a version control system. It checks out the code in its entirety and build…

There is no such thing as "Pragmatic BDD"

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I practice, teach and coach Test Driven techniques. Test Driven Design (i.e. using unit tests), Behaviour Driven Development, I use them all on an almost daily basis. I find them useful since they help me do my main job of delivering software. Yet once in a while I am asked whether I could be more "pragmatic" and less "purist" over Test Driven Development and Behavioural Driven Development techniques. I always find this an odd request, especially when I have been brought in as the subject expert to teach a company, or as a lead developer with a solid grounding in these subjects. But maybe this is not obvious to some, especially those who have never used the techniques correctly - or at all. This article looks bit deeper into the request, and see why I am totally nonplussed by even the idea.

Firstly, what does TDD and BDD (arguably the "pure" version of them) usually look like? To me they look like closely related cousins, which makes this brief summary sim…

Some Words on having "Skin in the Game"

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."PTheodore Roosevelt,Paris23 April, 1910excerpt from the speech "Citizenship In A Republic"

Chasing Rabbits

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Old Russian Proverb:
If you chase two rabbits you will not catch either one

Don't shave that yak!

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(If anyone would like to claim this is their work, I am more than happy to recognise the fact - credit where credit's due. Just drop me a line)

Estimation is dead! Long live estimates!

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Currently it seems trendy to say that your team no longer estimates. Or that estimating work is pointless (pointless? Geddit? oh never mind....). Hell, even I have said similar on Twitter.

So estimation is finally dead. Hurrah! No more picking meaningless numbers out of thin air when you really have no idea how long something will take. Finally we are rid of a process that is demonstrably flawed.

Except...is that a twitch I see from the lifeless corpse? I do believe it is!

There will always be times when it is genuinely useful to answer questions such as "Will we be able to show our new product at the April trade show?". Or "Which quarter do we need to start ramping up our marketing for the new feature?". All of which require estimates. Not necessarily to-the-day accurate estimates, but still estimates.

Even teams who claim not to estimate are finding that it is useful to make a judgement call - dare we call it an estimate - on the size of a requirement that they …

An achievement!

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Hurrah! I have earned another piece of paper (with distinction, no less :-) )! This time for completing the excellent Functional Programming with Scala course run by Martin Odersky and Coursera. I have touched on functional programming before, back in the days when I used to write XSLT for a mashup engine, but this course really helped open my eyes to what the underlying principles are. Not to mention forcing me to reassess the level of test-driven you apply to the new techniques.

Now the journey really begins!