Last week marked the 10th edition of the XP 200x conference, held in Sardinia, Italy. Me and Francisco were there to present an extended version of our Lego Lean Game. Being selected as the first session on the first day of the program, we were expecting a small audience, but it turned out to be quite well attended by about 20-25 people.

Lean Lego Game

We started the session a bit delayed, due to the lack of room organisation: I was a bit shocked when we arrived and the room was arranged as a normal “lecture room”, rather than the usual group tables (that we requested a week before). Projector and flipchart were not available, so it took us about 15 minutes to have everything ready to begin.

The slow start, however, did not got in the way of the overall workshop. We have designed the activities in a flexible way that allow us to adapt their length just-in-time so we still managed to cover everything we wanted without having to rush.

The first half of the workshop was mostly the same version we presented last year in Buenos Aires, with slight modifications based on feedback we got from participants. The second half, however, was mostly new and we included an activity to allow each team to come up with their own processes (rather than following ours). This turned out to be a great success! Each group came up with different ideas and, by watching the other teams perform, we had an interesting discussion about the different approaches and results. We now think that the original version is too condensed :-)

Lean Lego Game

The feedback we received after the session was great and a lot of people asked us for the material to run the session themselves. Me and Francisco have a “game package” that we can share for those interested in running the game. Get in touch with us if you’re interested! You can find more photos of our presentation here, here, and here (thanks to Hubert for sharing his pictures!). The slides are also available:

We are very interested in your feedback. So, if you were at the conference or want to use the material to run the workshop, please let us know! Share your experiences and help us make it better!

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XP 2009 is happening between 25-29th of May in Sardinia, Italy and I will be there attending and presenting some interesting workshops:

  • The Lean Lego Game: Me and Francisco have been improving our workshop since we last presented it at Agiles 2008 in Argentina, and we will be presenting a long version (180 minutes) on Monday, May 25th. We have just a few “seats” available to participate on the session (20-24) and it will be occupied in a first-come-first-serve basis. If more people show up we have plans to try and not reject anyone, though.
  • Test Driven Development: Performing Art: Emily Bache kindly invited me to present a Prepared Kata at her workshop and I will be pairing with Francisco for 30-40 minutes, programming in Ruby with RSpec/Cucumber. Should be fun to “perform” and watch the other pairs as well. Looking forward to that session on Wednesday afternoon!

My fellow ThoughtWorker Pat Kua will be there presenting a workshop as well. I will try to brush up my (lately lazy) writting skills and publish some conference reports. And hope to see you all there in Sardinia!

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The last conference I attended in October was Falando em Agile (Talking about Agile), a 2-day conference organized by Caelum. First of all I need to thank all the organizers for inviting me to speak and for putting together such a great conference.

Conference Badges

The content was very mixed, with some people focusing on the management aspects of Agile, while others highlighting the importance of the technical side (with some in between, as well as interesting experience reports). About 200 participants showed up with great questions and experiences, which impressed me and showed how much Agile has grown in Brazil since last year.

David Anderson gave the opening keynote, which focused on his “Recipe for Success”. I find he’s a very opinionated speaker and he can get me both agreeing and disagreeing with him at the same time, which is interesting because we can always learn something. At the same time that I don’t believe in a recipe for success, I strongly agree with his points about how the focus on quality leads to fast delivery, focusing on the engineering aspects to build quality in.

The second talk was mine and Frankie’s about Agile adoption anti-patterns that we noticed in our experiences applying Agile in the “real world”. I think the presentation went really well and the feedback we got was very positive. A lot of people came to talk to us during the break to tell us they’ve identified themselves in a lot of our examples, and that they liked to see us talking about what didn’t work instead of the bright/good things we like about Agile. The slides are available here (in Portuguese).

After lunch, Adail gave a talk about Agile thinking, showing tools such as mind maps and theory of constraints trees. After that, the guys from SEA Technology presented a very interested case study of their attempts of applying Agile in a government project in Brasília. Very interesting to hear their experiences and how it’s possible to apply Agile even in the most adverse environments.

José Papo gave a talk about different types of contract and how their are suitable (or most commonly not suitable) for Agile. The closing talk of the day was given by my friend Guilherme Chapiewski about Agile Leadership. It was interesting to see that he gathered a lot of topics on the subject from different sources and his own experience, arguing about the conflicts of being a leader that provides technical versus process guidelines. I’ve been recently reading a lot about Lean, and my current thinking goes much towards a Chief Engineer role, with a strong technical background, but at the same point with a holistic view of the product and what is value from the customer’s perspective. I missed this topic from his talk, but it was overall really good.

The second day started with traffic again, so I missed Alexandre Magno’s talk about Scrum in PMI environments. Danilo Bardusco gave a great experience report of how they are adopting Scrum at, the largest media company in Brazil. I think this kind of experience report is really important for people who are starting with Agile, because it shows how hard it is to change a company’s culture and some of the problems they might find on the way. The last talk before lunch was given by Prof. Fabio Kon and Daniel Cukier: they are both members of AgilCoop (which I’m also part of) and gave a great summary of Linda Rising’s and Mary Lynn’s book “Fearless Change”, showing patterns for introducing new ideas.

Because of the short lunch break (only 1 hour), I was late to watch Daniel Wildt’s talk about his experiences as an Agile coach at Dell. Antonio Carlos from Yahoo!, gave an interesting talk about the importance and the responsibilities of a Product Owner (which I would generalize as the customer in general). The closing keynote was from my co-worker Philip Calçado, where he shared his experience in 2 different projects where bad management decisions made an Agile adoption less successful. I particularly liked his point that “Agile is about inspecting and adapting, but you need to understand what you are doing”. Dropping practices or putting others in place without understanding why they are important may be more harmful to the team.

Overall the conference was really good and I enjoyed seeing my friends and meeting new people enthusiastic about Agile. I was really impressed with how Agile has grown in Brazil since last year. Next year’s conference is promising to be even better and I’m looking forward to participate again.

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Continuing the series of conference reports, me and Frankie spend a day in Buenos Aires, Argentina to present a Lego(tm) Game we developed to teach some Lean practices and principles at Agiles 2008. The conference was held during the full week of 20-25 October, including three concurrent 2-day Certified Scrum Master trainings and Mary and Tom’s 2 day course on Lean Software Development.

Agiles 2008 - Buenos Aires

Unfortunately, we were not able to stay for the whole week, but spending one day gave us a pretty good impression of how Agile is growing in Latin America. The conference had about 400 participants during these 5 days and they had to reject some of the 900 interested due to logistics constraints. As happened in the US and Europe, the major driver for Agile adoption is being Scrum and, as more people start adopting it, the more problems are uncovered about how they can improve on the “technical” engineering practices.

Agiles 2008 - Buenos Aires

Mary’s opening keynote was exactly about that: how important it is to look at the engineering side of Agile to make its success sustainable. This was the same talk she gave at Agile 2008, highlighting the successes and failures (Plank Roads) of our short software engineering history. I thought it was much better than the last time I saw it, and she managed to convey her message in a much more clear way: focusing on processes/life-cycle has been fragile, while strong technical and engineering practices has shown success throughout our history.

Me presenting

Our workshop went really well: the number of participants and their level of knowledge on Lean matched exactly what we had in mind when we developed it. I’m not going to describe the dynamics of the session, because Frankie already did a good job in doing that. Suffice it to say that the feedback we received was great and that we already have some changes to make it even better. I’m also making the slides available here, although you would have to participate on the hands-on exercises to fully understand it.

Lego Houses

I think the overall message of our session was to show how some of the Lean practices work in practice, but also highlight the importance of Systems Thinking and the principles behind the practices. Blindly applying a practice may give you marginal results, but to fully embrace a Lean philosophy you need to keep learning and improving. There’s not an easy recipe to success.

After a good lunch (with Argentinian steak and some Brazilian friends), we went back to the venue and didn’t have a lot of time to watch any other session, so we rushed to the airport. Next year’s conference is promissing to be even bigger, and besides wanting to stay for the whole week, I hope to see more Brazilians sharing their Agile experiences with the Latin American community.

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I’ve finally settled down in London and took some time to start the conference reports from the last couple of weeks. The first one I attended in São Paulo was Rails Summit Latin America. It was very well attended (500+ participants) and organized. I should give a special thanks to Fabio Akita and Locaweb for putting such a great conference together!

The conference started a bit earlier to me, when we went out with the other “foreigner speakers” (that’s how non-Brazilians are called in the airport…) to eat Feijoada and drink Caipirinha! Lots of fun! It was really cool to hang out with George, Jay, Obie, Desi, Dr. Nic, Chris, David Chelimsky, Luis Lavena, Akita, and Tim.

The first day of the conference started with DHH’s remote Q&A session, which was OK but nothing new or exciting. The following talk was really good: Chad Fowler gave an inspiring keynote about “Being Remarkable” which was a good summary of his book, plus his skills as a presenter and a good deck of slides (and videos). Very good!

Me and George skiped lunch to rehearse and give some final touches on our presentation about REST. I thought the presentation flowed very well, and it ended up being the only technical session on the main stage during the first day, even though we didn’t show any code: our goal was to talk about REST as an architectural style, basically summing up the great work of Fielding and the good practices that people on the REST community have been talking about. We also wanted to talk about other alternatives to building services on the internet. The slides are available here (we added some notes to make it easier to follow our train of thought).

Dr. Nic gave a funny and entertaining presentation about contributing to Open Source projects and the “Path to Awesomeness”. The first day finished with Chris’ keynote, which was very similar to the one he presented at Ruby Hoedown. If you’re interested, watch it on Confreaks. After his talk, Fabio moderated the Birds of a Feather session (which was more like Lightning Talks), and I was very surprised to see a lot of people stepping up to talk in their 5 minutes slot. The topics ranged from politics to organizing a study group, with special kudos to the Phusion guys who showed a Brainf*ck interpreter in Ruby. Of course, the day couldn’t finish without a rodízio of Brazilian steak at the churrascaria.

On the second day, I experienced the great joy of São Paulo traffic and didn’t made it to watch the Phusion guys’ presentation. I’ve heard from a lot of people it was great and that they gave a great talk about scalability (as well as a lesson on how to use Keynote properly). I arrived during Charles Nutter and Thomas Enebo’s talk about JRuby. It was held remotely and I know Akita had a lot of work to get the environment working. In the end, we still experienced some latency issues but the demos worked out quite OK. After that, Jay gave an interesting talk about the “Immaturity of Testing”, which was rooted in a last-minute presentation we put together for the UK ThoughtWorks Away Day back in June with George. It was great to see how much the discussions from our internal session enhanced the overall message and how Jay managed to put it all together in a nice format. I think a lot of people learned from the pros and cons that he discussed.

After lunch, the ‘testing’ theme continued with David Chelimsky presenting a double talk on RSpec and Cucumber, the gem that’s being developed by Aslak right now and will eventually replace RSpec’s current Story Runner. I wasn’t present during the second half, because I was preparing to present next about my lessons learned about testing. The slides (in Portuguese) are also available and I received some good feedback about it from the brazilians who prefered to watch me instead of David :-)

I stayed around the Brazilian track to watch my friend Fabio Kung present on JRuby and give a real-life demo of his experiments with JMagLev. After that, we all went to watch the closing keynote, by Obie Fernandez. It was a great talk about the Hashrocket way, which was heavily based on their way of applying Agile. In the end, he managed to get standing ovation from some folks in the audience. The last day finished with a lot of champagne and free beer, closing two days of networking, fun, Ruby, and Rails.

My overall impressions from the conference were very positive. It was great to see how much the Brazilian Rails community has grown over the past year. When Fabio and I organized the first RejectConf, back in 2007, we managed to get 100 people to show up in a Saturday and that triggered a lot of other small local conferences throughout Brazil. Seing everyone together for the first time, was a great chance to do the usual networking, and to share our experiences working with Ruby and Rails. I suspect next year’s conference will be even better. See you there!

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Next 15th and 16th of October I will be in São Paulo speaking at Rails Summit Latin America. I will be presenting a session about Developer Testing, showing some interesting tools in the Ruby world such as: RSpec, Mocha, Synthesis, RCov, and Autotest. I will also be co-presenting a session with George about Application Design for REST (or something along those lines).

Rails Summit Latin America

In the meantime, for the Portuguese speaking audience, I have uploaded the slides and Carlos Eduardo made the recorded video available of my Merb webinar that I presented last month at ”Café com Tom”. I will be back to present another webinar about BDD and RSpec in September.

Hope to see you all there!

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August 12th, 2008Coding Dojo @ Agile 2008

The main reason I went to the conference was to present my experience report on Wednesday about running a Coding Dojo in São Paulo since last year with my friends: Hugo and Mariana. I just made the slides available for download, as well as the published paper. Feel free to comment and send questions and comments about our unanswered questions.

Dojo@SP Mind Map

The overall feedback we got from the 30 minutes presentation was very good and we decided to do a Live Dojo at the Open Jam in the next available slot. Besides me, Hugo, and Mariana, Emmanuel and Arnaud from the Paris Dojo showed up, Ivan Sanchez from the Floripa Dojo as well, and other people joined us during the session.

We did a Randori session solving the Blocks Problem in Ruby/RSpec, switching pairs every 7 minutes. Although we didn’t finish the problem, it generated some interesting discussions about exposing the internal state vs. a representation of the state to the tests, and how valuable it is to introduce a data structure that you don’t need now but will soon need.

The problem generated some interest and, on the following day, Arnaud had scheduled a slot on the Opem Jam, and we decided to tackle the problem again, but this time in Haskell. Dan and Liz were also there and it was really cool to see the same problem from a different perspective. We discussed how some features of a functional language forces you to think in a different way (I still don’t quite understand Monads, by the way) :-)

Another interesting learning point was: In our paper, we discussed a whole topic about issues with people pairing in different environments (operating system, keyboard layout, shortcut keys, IDEs, …) at every meeting. At the Open Jam, Dan proposed that we used a local Mercurial repository to share the progress on development (pushing at each TDD step for the next pair to continue working on the problem). This allowed him to work on his Mac with a Dvorak layout, while we were using Emacs on a Linux laptop. The other benefit of this approach is that it allows people to experience how Continuous Integration works in practice, committing as often as possible, whenever it makes sense to do so. Good stuff!

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If you ever got your Mac screen dimming or your Screen Saver running in the middle of a presentation, here’s a quick tip: give you Mac some Caffeine. Before discovering this I used to play around with Energy Settings but always forgot to change it to ‘Custom’ and, let’s face it, switching this functionality on and off in one click is always better than two! Enjoy! :-)


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