Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Book Review: The Art of Lean Software Development

The Art of Lean Software Development by Curt Hibbs, et. al. Published by O’Reilly, ISBN 0596517319.

This is a concise work weighing in at around 120 pages.  Its point is to give people a 30,000 foot overview of many things relating to Lean software development, and it’s absolutely targeted to technical and business decision makers who are trying to learn a bit about how they can benefit from Lean.

The problem with the book’s approach is that the authors fly past points so quickly that there’s not enough serious discussion of the crucial topics central to Lean. I also think the authors spent the majority of the book covering topics which aren’t specific to Lean. I’m all over source control, continuous integration, test driven design/development, etc., but these are fundamentals for many other methodologies or approaches. The authors don’t spend enough time hitting hard the concepts of eliminating waste, tight cycles, etc.

Worse yet, in the authors’ attempts to give only high-level coverage of concepts they do a bad job of describing some critical issues.  As an example, I screamed, literally, when I found this passage in their section on Reuse Existing Software:

Software reuse exists in many different forms, each of which affects codebase size differently:
  • Copying source code from one component to another reduces coding time and debugging, but it actually increases codebase size. 

Dudes. Really. Copy and Paste development is awful for so many reasons, and increase in codebase size is utterly the last issue you should be talking about when discussing why you should never do it. Instead, focus on the impact of copy/paste on code complexity, violation of DRY principles, the loss of clarity, increased dependencies, and the replication of bugs throughout your codebase.

This isn’t an awful book, and the authors generally did a good job laying out the material. The problem is a lack of focus and a sacrifice of vital information in an attempt to turn an introduction to Lean into some sort of 30 minute infomercial.

I’d much rather point folks interested in Lean to Tom and Mary Poppendieck’s Lean Software Development or their follow-on Implementing Lean Software Development for a great introduction as well as solid details on adopting Lean. Folks interested in the broader Agile topic should run, not walk, and grab Shore and Warden’s The Art of Agile Development.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Central Ohio Day of .NET Registration Open!

Mike Wood has the registration open for the Central Ohio Day of .NET!

The event’s on 18 April at the Roberts Centre in Wilmington, smack dab in the middle of Dayton, Columbus, and Cincinnati. Lots of great speakers, lots of great attendees, lots of great discussions, lots of great content.

Keep in mind that we’ll be doing Open Spaces in addition to a bunch of great formal sessions. Open Spaces give you a great chance to have some highly valuable, unique discussions with your peers. Got a topic you’re interested in? Bring it up. Got a problem you’re looking for help on? You may find a solution! More details on the Open Spaces at the CODODN’s opening remarks.

Monday, March 16, 2009

April Speaking Gigs

I’ve got a semi-busy April lined up with talks at three events in the region:

4 April: .NET University in Grand Rapids, MI. I’m really pushing my own comfort zone by giving an extended workshop on .NET Fundamentals (200 level). Being the non-conformist I am I’ll be diverting lots of it to discuss my views on Lean, craftsmanship, and general software development lifecycle. Plus, being the tool whore I am, I’ll talk about all kinds of gadgets and widgets. Hopefully I’ll still have a few left in the audience by the time I’m done…

18 April: Central Ohio Day of .NET in Wilmington, OH. I’ll be doing a session on Acceptance Testing with Selenium.

25 April: Kalmazoo X Conference in, wait for it, Kalamazoo, MI. Michael Eaton and friends were foolish enough to give me a podium for my Leadership 101 talk plus my Three Tips for Improving Your Development Process gig.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Another .NET University Coming Up!

Chris Woodruff (AKA “Woody”) is putting on a .NET University in Grand Rapids on 4 April. Chris got inspired by the .NET U that I helped Jeff organize last year, and I’m excited to see another one firing off here in the region!

I’m even more excited because I’ll be presenting a 2.5 hour session on Intermediate .NET. There’s no session abstract yet, but this will be 100-level content around the following topics:

  • Managing your development environment
    • Extending Visual Studio with add-ons
    • MSBuild basics
    • Continuous Integration overview
  • Introduction to Generics
  • Introduction to LINQ
    • LINQ to XML
    • LINQ to SQL
    • LINQ to objects
  • Good sense in Software Engineering
  • Some next steps in self-improvement

That topic list will likely change as I finish up building the session over the next few weeks, but that’s what it’s shaping up to be.

.NET University events are a great thing. They’re a different beast than the code camps or Days of .NET we put on elsewhere. They’re not for regular community members who have some solid skills already, they’re for those folks who are new to .NET, thinking about getting in to .NET, or might even be new to development.

Spread the word if you’re in the western Michigan area and are interested!

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