1st day of JAOO
I am at JAOO and this is the report of the first day. The venue is really great, well organized and with friendly staff that makes everything run smoothly. For me it is the first time at the conference and I have had no problem at all getting around. A nice and straight-forward approach to evaluation is the red, yellow and green cards you put in a box when exiting a talk. An easy way for everyone to give feedback. I figure just a small percentage actually fills in the kind of serious evaluation forms that are the standard.
The starting keynote of the day by Barry Boehm was called Scaling up Agility : The Architected Agile Approach. I realize that this man is quite a legend and it sure is an honor to listen to a man that has such huge experiences behind him. The rather fragmented talk was about the problems of scaling up agile methods. Again I sent a silent prayer to the gods that they may enlighten IT presenters in presentation zen. Lots of strange graphs and tables in very small font made it hard to follow the talk. The question raised in the talk is definitely interesting. As project complexity increases in different directions the need for formality increases too. How do we address this? This need is different in different projects. One important thing to take into account is that the people making up a team and the organizations they belong to may be the biggest restriction on a project. The numbers of developers needed and their current skill set has a huge impact on a projects success. I never really got a good answer to the question from Barry but then I might have been a bit tired from the late flight yesterday.... The best answer I have seen yet is Alistair Cockburns work on the crystal method which sadly no one seems to be using. I would rather have seen crystal getting the position that Scrum has these days. Isn't it a bit typical that the lightweight method that focuses on management is the one that gets chosen when agile goes mainstream. What I miss A LOT in Scrum is the focus on the craftsmanship of coding that is emphasized in eXtreme Programming and in Crystal. With scrum it is perfectly valid to be agile without going test driven. The effects on the produced software unfortunately speaks for itself.
Michael Feathers had a really cool talk about working effectively with legacy code. I haven't read his book but I have followed his blog for a while and I really like his views on coding. We talk most about new code bases, new techniques etc and are not that interested in the old stuff that makes up the vast majority of the combined code bases. Yet this is the code that we probably will spend a lot of time changing and making right. The focus Feathers is putting on this subject is surely needed. I may blog a bit more about this talk later on when thoughts have settled.