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.

(Legacy code always make me think of the big ball of mud - true and ironic.)
The creator, Rich Hickey, of the new programming language Clojure gave us an introduction to the language. It was truly refreshing to see this fundamentally different approach to languages as compared with Java/C#. Clojure is a Lisp with all that comes with that. Lisp is very old yet one of the most elegant languages there is. Now I am not language guy so I will spare you a detailed description of Clojure. Instead - lets just say that it is functional, dynamically typed and compiled, highly concurrent and runs on top of the JVM. Read more.....
After lunch I made a bit of a mistake. Instead of listening to all sorts of interesting talks I decided to give the semantic web a second chance. Not that the talks were any bad - it is just that I have been hoping for change in this area for some time and it never really seems to take off. First out was Brian McBride with a talk called Linked data and after him Eric Gordon Prud'hommeaux with a talk called the Semantic web. Both talks were a bit too technical and failed to communicate the vision of the semantic web to me. (Admittedly I was a bit tired after lunch and not enough sleep.) I have been really curious about where the efforts around the semantic web will lead us and so far the answer seems to be nowhere. Brian said something about the impossible task of creating an upfront model for the semantic web and that it rather is something that will grow over the years. Different concrete applications will arise and drive its acceptance further. I agree that this is the only way forward but it makes me a bit sad since it probably means that it will never come to areas where there are no competitive advantage of embracing it.
Hardy arrived and he really wanted to see the legendary Barry Boehm so since I didn't have a good alternative to come up with I accompanied him to that lecture which essentially was a replay of the keynote. No news there.
The day was perfectly ended with a couple of beers at Sidewalk next to the nice canal and then the party in Ridehuset. Carlsbergs Ale on tap is really nice.