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Luke Melia

The Quiet Bullpen

Time Ottinger writes about The Quiet Bullpen:

There is something innately wrong when the room is quiet and everyone is engaged in solo work.

Software development should be like a jam session, where all the musicians are trying trading between leads and accompaniment and finding spaces to fill in and learning to join in the song without getting in its way.

This rings true for me. We’ve got a newly renovated “war room” (the phone extensions even show up within the company as “Developer War Room 1!”) and it’s easy to get a sense of the health of the current sprint by sitting in the room for an hour. The atmosphere and interactions speak loudly, and nothing speaks more loudly than silent developers looking at separate LCDs.

The more common scenarios, both healthy, are these:

1) Active intra-pair interaction within each pair, but with little inter-pair interaction.

This is indicative of a period in the sprint where the work is well-understood and the pairs are making solid progress on their stories.

2) Lots of inter-pair interaction with frequent interruptions, discussions across the table and sometimes some whiteboarding.

This is indicative of a period of unclear acceptance criteria, a technology learning curve, and/or stories that overlap more than is ideal. You can usually tell which by listening — the latter is the only one to watch out for. As our team grows, one of the challenges is how to carve parallel paths through the project work so that the pairs don’t step all over each other, but still maintain a cohesive goal for the sprint. The parallel paths can be surprisingly close to each other. I’ve been impressed by the effectiveness of frequent checkins, continuous integration and a source control with decent merging and conflict resolution tools.

Anyway, I like Tim’s article. “The Quiet Bullpen” is definitely a “smell” to watch out for!

Ruby.NET compiler

More interesting news at the collision of the Ruby and .NET worlds. From down under, Wayne Kelly and John Gough announced the first beta of the Gardens Point Ruby compiler:

We are pleased to announce the preliminary Beta release of the Gardens Point Ruby.NET compiler. Note: this is not just a Ruby/.NET bridge, nor a Ruby Interpreter implemented on .NET, but a true .NET compiler. The compiler can be used to statically compile a Ruby source file into a verifiable .NET v2.0 assembly or it can be used to directly execute a Ruby source file (compile, load and execute). Our implementation is not yet fully complete, but it is the only Ruby compiler that we know of for either the .NET or JVM platforms that is able to pass all 871 tests in the samples/test.rb installation test suite of Ruby 1.8.2.

I expect cool stuff to come from this.

autotest -rails

I’ve been meaning to start doing TDD in my rails hacking for a while, and this weekend I finally got a start on it. Today, I discovered autotest and supercharged the red green refactor cycle!

Autotest runs continuously and watches to see what files you have edited. Any time you save a file, it will run the corresponding test within a few seconds. If a test fails, you can see the result immediately. If it passes, you can write another test, then the code necessary to make it pass, ad nauseam.

It’s seriously awesome. I really want something like this for my C# development at work. I imagine the concept wouldn’t work quite as well with a compiled language, but still — it would be sweet!

JetBrains .NET Tools Blog

JetBrains, makers of my favorite C# development too, Resharper, have launched a .NET Tools Blog. They start off talking about the excellent Go to Type feature and ask what the reader’s favorite feature in ReSharper is. I’d have to go with Introduce variable (Ctrl+Alt+V). I’m sure I’ve been driving my team nuts lately because I’m always spewing Resharper keyboard shortcuts that can save them time while we’re pairing!

Music to my ears

From the tracks-discuss mailing list:

Many many thanks to all. Tracks has reduced my stress level. I can now spend time with my kids. I no longer feel guilty or on edge because I have something to do but can’t remember it or was trying to keep the 300+ things in my head.

As a software developer, there is nothing more satisfying than knowing people are using the code you wrote, and that it’s improving their lives!

LukeMelia.com created 1999. ··· Luke Melia created 1976. ··· Live With Passion!
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