Tag Archives: it-agile-blog-planet

Working in a distributed company

In my courses, one or more of the participants almost always raise a question like this:

How do you set up a team across many sites?

Almost always when digging deeper I find out that they are currently working in a setting with many sites involved. Almost always they have a project organization set up with single-skill specialists involved. These single-skill specialists are almost always working on at least three different projects at the same time. In the better cases, the remote team members are spread across a single timezone. In the worst cases I have seen so far, it had been a timezone difference of ten hours.

I will leave how to deal with such a setting for a later blog entry. Today, I want to focus on some tips and tricks for working with remote team members and remote colleagues.

Tripit reported that I was on the road in 2012 for 304 days. I hardly believe that since I stayed at home for our newborn son Nico the whole June back then. (I think they have had a bug there.) But it was close. I have worked with remote team members and remote project teams in distributed companies since 2006. I hope I have some nuggets worth sharing.

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Why you should go to CAST

Last year, when the Association for Software Testing announced the location for their next annual conference CAST 2015, Grand Rapids, MI, there was an up-roar happening on social media and back channels like Skype and private conversations. To my own surprise, I saw members of the context-driven testing community falling short of their very own principles. Rather than observing and interacting with people, it seemed that some persons preferred to derive their knowledge about Grand Rapids based upon a prior CAST conference there. Experience may be a good resource to start looking at, but I found that I should trust the folks from the local area that I knew to put together an awesome conference – more so since they could explain to me why the past experience was not so well received. When it came to the October 2014 AST board member meeting, Pete Walen, the conference chair, the guy who managed to send in a proposal prior to CAST 2014 so that the AST board could decide upon it, invited us to the conference location, so that it was easy to see for us where we were going with the proposal. Here is what I learned during my two nights in the conference venue – and why I think you should attend.

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Principles of ATDD: Single Responsibility Principle

The other day, I sat down Kishen Simbhoedatpanday in order to talk about ATDD, and eventually an upcoming class on the implementation side of ATDD. We talked about maintainable tests, and how you could refactor tests to yield better tests. Gojko wrote about the anatomy of a good acceptance test a while back, and I think we can be more explicit here. Then it struck me. The Single Responsibility Principle also applies to your automated examples – and why that’s the case. You just need to think on a conceptual level about it. Mixing business domain concerns with application concerns in your examples – and sometimes even with driver concerns (think Selenium) – is a terrible thing to do.

Let’s explore this idea further.

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The generalizing cook

The agile community is full of stuff on generalists. Ideally, you should be able to juggle coffees for your developers while riding a one-wheeler, and playing the guitar to “Master of Puppets” from Metallica at the same time. Oh, and you really should have found that bug while doing all that.

That’s a task close to impossible. Let’s take a step back, and take a look into another field of work: cooking. How do you react to generalists there? Let’s see.

Caution: Before reading on, make sure, you had enough to eat. (Or didn’t, depending on how fast you can get weak.) This blog post includes references to lots of yummy meals, and contains itself 2000 kcal.

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On writing blog entries

On Sunday, while writing the blog entry for Monday, I tweeted (or is that ‘twoted’?):

One of these days I’m going to write a blog entry on how I write blog entries. You are going to be surprised.

That cliffhanger triggered some responses from people that wanted to know more. So, I took the writing process of my Tuesday’s blog entry as an example to describe the process of me writing a blog entry.

I hope you are not going to hate me after reading this.

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Working effectively with legacy tests

A couple of years ago I read a book from Michael Feathers that kept on being mentioned a lot in the literature I was reading then. The title? Working effectively with legacy code. Feathers makes some points on how to get code without tests working, by breaking down dependencies, introducing seams, and working towards more testable code. I loved that book.

When we take the idea of test automation as software development seriously, then there also should be a concept called legacy tests. That concept to me is related to testing debt, a term I think I coined back in 2009. But what are legacy tests? How do they slow down your productivity? And what can we do about it?

Here are some limited experiences I made with a couple of legacy tests, and how to overcome them. I hope this blog entry will trigger some more experience reports from folks, so that fewer teams need to suffer from it.

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Only human

While attending conferences, sometimes some folks approach me. I can sense they are nervous, I can sense that they have some questions to ask, and I can sense that they look up to me – and I always get the impression that I am frightening some of these folks. The bottom line is: all of us “celebrities” are only human. You can contact us, and you can have a chat with us most of the time. Here are some things that I did in the past.

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Learning styles

During DEWT4 I reached the conclusion that there are different learning styles, and they have different levels of effectiveness, at least for me. I think it was Alistair Cockburn that triggered the thought with his model on communication effectiveness. I think there are various levels of learning effectiveness related to Cockburn’s communication effectiveness as well. I think the axes for learning styles are the amount of interactivity, and its effectiveness for the student.

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