Archive for the 'wrestling with programs' Category

Step away from the keyboard, and put your hands where I can see them

Friday, July 4th, 2008

When we let participants pair program in courses, it is always difficult to make them stop… Over time we have experimented with various techniques. Marc and I are at the ESSAP summer school this week, and we needed to pull out all the stops – they were that focused :)

Techniques we used to get people to stop

  • Pomodori (kitchen timer set to 25 minutes, with 5 minutes in between), it makes noise, so some people stop.
  • Marc’s Horn – this gets some more peoples attention
  • and finally this:

I shout “Step away from the keyboard, and put your hands where I can see them!”.

That gets everybody’s attention (and laughs). We are having good fun, and seem to have found a good way to explain refactoring when you are almost having some tests :) (more about that later, hopefully).

More pictures from this session (including the retrospective stickers)

The joy of Refactoring – Reveal intentions

Wednesday, November 7th, 2007

three programmes staring at code, going - ohhh. Text on photo says: Reveal intentions - write code for who comes after you, not the computer.



This is a slide I made for a workshop on Refactoring Legacy Systems I ran yesterday. I love the puzzled look on their faces.

The photo was made in the open space at agile2007, featuring JB Rainsberger and two others (sorry, remembering names at large events like agile200* is difficult for me – the guy in the middle was a volunteer in a session I co-hosted at agile2006).

The agile2008 call for participation is out, to give you an idea what is going to happen. Major change for next year is the idea of stages, each stage with a specific theme.


Close to my heart is of course:


Agile and Organizational Culture
Producer: Marc Evers; Assistant Producer: Linda Rising
Agile is not only about changing the way you work and changing the way you think – doing agile in a sustainable way requires changing principles and values. An agile initiative doesn’t take place in a vacuum, it has to interface with the existing organizational culture. It will influence the organizational context and the other way around. This stage provides a space for discussions, teaching, learning, and sharing experiences about agile and organizational culture.

Space for new session organisers and pushing the envelope:

Breaking Acts
Producer: Laurent Bossavit
Agile as it stands today is still a work in progress. For Agile software development to remain relevant, it must incorporate new ideas continuously. This stage is for speakers who bring a fresh and surprising look to aspects of Agile we thought familiar, and speakers interested in ideas that are relevant to Agile but not accepted yet as “mainstream”. First-time speakers are particularly welcome.

And of course, another Open Space :)

Open Jam
Producer: Esther Derby
The regular program presents a wide range of presentations and experiential sessions. The Open Jam stage is a place to share questions and quandaries, talk to the experts, demonstrate software and techniques, and experiment with emerging Agile practices and ideas.

There’s also a francophone stage, hosted by Emmanuel Gaillot, since Agile2008 will be in Toronto, Canada. I will be visiting Toronto December 6 through 9 for an agile alliance board meeting – that way, board members involved in the conference organisation can combine two things in a trip. Let me know if you’re in the area and would like to go for a beer :)

Browser testing with Firewatir

Thursday, June 14th, 2007

I’ve been looking (and still am, but less) for a simple solution to test-drive website development with browser integration. Rob Westgeest pointed me to Firewatir. Firewatir is a Ruby wrapper around Firefox through the JSSH shell extension.

Firewatir is new and still under development, but looks promising to me, as it fullfills the four R’s: Easy to Read, (w)Rite, Run and Refactor. The only thing that is required is a firefox plugin for JSSH and a ruby library (installable through rubygems). Current downsides are scant documentation and the test process seems to hang sometimes. We also had to make some extensions to start Firefox automatically under linux (Firewatir was originally made for windows). The scant documentation you can get around if you read the tests.

We had a session on browser testing at Agile Open Europe this week. Apparently, links to Firewatir and its (scant) documentation are not that easy to find from some countries.

Hope this helps to make them easier to find. I’d be curious to know what you are going to use it for :)

Guess the IDE in this photo

Sunday, April 30th, 2006

Lasse Koskela looked at the agile open photos and asks me what the IDE in this photo is. Can you guess it?

which development environment is in this picture

I’m not sure I would call it an IDE (Integrated Development Environment), probably more a DIDE (DesIntegrated Development Environment), or DE (Development Environment), or, rather, just an editor.

When giving demos, or participating in collaborative coding events like a dojo, I prefer the environment and the programming language to be as simple as possible. This, to lower barriers to participation for everyone in the room, and since wall projections can carry less information, have as little screen clutter as possible.

So, this particular editor is simple, supports about 35 different programming languages and saves and runs the script, shown in the pane on the left, after pressing F5. The pane on the right shows the output. Both can independently be resized (ctrl+mousewheel).

(Spoiler, in case you haven’t guessed yet, the DE in question is SciTE. The testcase on the left is written in ruby, the simplest language you don’t know. SciTE is included in the most popular ruby installer for windows, and is included in most linux distributions ).

Welcome to Johannes Link

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2006

Johannes Link announced his new weblog My Not So Private Tech Life today.

Johannes has already written a book (on unit testing, in German), now he starts publishing in smaller increments :-) . Looks like the blog will be a mixture of working in pragmatic ways and up-and-downsides of actually making stuff , starting with a thread on Ajax programming. (to Dutch people, Ajax remains a soccer team nevertheless).

Continuous Integration and Testing (un)Conference

Tuesday, February 21st, 2006

Continuous Integration and Testing Conference April 7-8, 2006 – Chicago, IL, USA. I won’t be able to attend, but this open space event might be worth your while. I don’t know the organisers, but they seem to know themselves pretty well ;-) :

Jeffrey and Paul have been planning the conference for more than 9 months and feel that just doing it is better than languishing in analysis paralysis. Early April was targetted as a good time.”

I hope next year Jeffrey and Paul will call it an unconference. At the agile open last year we had some participants who had missed the fact there was no conference program. On the other hand, most of the CITCON site is about open space and the open space rules
Through Lasse’s weblog – CITCON in Chicago