Bookmarks for May 6th through May 22nd

These are my links for May 6th through May 22nd:

The Simplest of Organisation

Ever since I started implementing SCRUM for my application development at work friends of mine have expressed an interest in the way it works.

Recently even people passing through my office – there talking to my colleagues and who I don’t know very well – have been remarking on the backlogs which are displayed in a prominent position above my desk. I think they’re impressed by the simplicity of the system and how effective it seems to be for me.

I must admit my backlogs are simpler than the full blown setup. As I’m still in the process of hiring, I currently only really develop alone so I’m not bothering with the intermediate item-in-progress stickies.

I also have tasks organised in a 2-dimensional area with axes for complexity and importance. Although sprint backlog tasks are prioritised by my customers, it’s been proving useful to have my take on these attributes displayed spatially rather than just writing ‘3 days’ on the ticket.

In fact I keep my product backlog organised this way as well, as soon as tickets come in. It allows me to relay my take on the tasks to the customers straight away, whether or not we’re building a sprint backlog at the time. When a sprint has finished the product backlog is reorganised to take account of any changes, e.g. to infrastructure, affecting the tasks.

Sporting Developments

I recently started reading Agile Software Development with Scrum by Schwaber and Beedle. It’s a great introduction to this branch of the Agile movement. It’s easy to read and contains practical advice and straight-forward explainations of the terms and processes involved with Scrum.

Even more satisfying than the read itself was the realisation that I’ve been using a good number of the Scrum techniques in managing projects within my team for the last three years or so. I love the idea of a development team reaching a nirvana-like hyper-productive state though one of the examples of a four-person team at Quattro producing 1000 lines of C++ a week took me aback.

In the middle of last month I moved to a new position at WTSI, Team Leader for the New Sequencing Pipeline development team (currently consisting of me). Since then I’ve been working on what I’ll now call a code sprint and last week I had my first product increment. The product is a smallish system for tracking runs on the new technology sequencing machines but is around 10,000 lines of Perl (excluding templates, CSS & tests) built on a light MVC framework I produced in the same time. A one man-team producing 3,333 loc in a week seems ultra-productive and I can’t believe it’s *purely* down to the fact that Perl is easier to write than C++.

Anyway, I’m on a C++ course all next week, so I’ll soon be able to tell. Shame it’s not about Rails instead ;)