Development process

March 23rd, 2019

Why SAFe can be agile kryptonite.

The problem with SAFe is that you can implement it without writing a single unit test or automating a single build…

March 8th, 2019

Sharing microservices across large organisations

Sharing microservices across organisational boundaries is much harder than it looks. There are technical, operational, organisational and financial issues that need to be considered if you want to be successful.

February 24th, 2019

Should teams choose their own languages and tools?

Standardisation does have a place, but it should be reserved for infrastructure and collaboration rather than languages and tools.

August 30th, 2018

How I learned to love the “Agile Industrial Complex”

There is a growing sense of unease around how larger organisations have implemented agile. In particular, there is a tendency towards centralised control that can be at odds with the agile preference for individuals over process.

January 27th, 2018

Can TOGAF and Agile really go together?

On the face of it, TOGAF describes a very different world to the agile preference for working software over documentation. That doesn’t mean that TOGAF is incompatible with agile, so long as you’re prepared to adapt its numerous building blocks.

November 18th, 2017

Technical debt is an overused and lazy metaphor

Technical debt may be a useful metaphor for describing how bad code design undermines productivity to non-technical audiences, but it does not help in understanding the longer term problems that affect code bases.

October 12th, 2017

What should a Scaled Agile “architectural runway” actually look like?

The Scaled Agile Framework talks about an “architectural runway” as the main deliverable for agile architecture, yet it’s vague on the detail of what this looks like.

June 19th, 2017

When does refactoring become rewriting?

Refactoring describes a very specific and controlled technique for improving code. The problem is that it is often used to describe wholesale changes to code bases that should be treated as a rewrite.

April 12th, 2017

Using Docker to build and deploy .Net Core console applications

Using Docker with .Net Core is initially straightforward, but to get beyond basic image building you will need to handle more than the simple scenarios demonstrated in quick-start guides.

April 3rd, 2017

Architectural governance can be used to foster innovation. No, really.

Governance doesn’t have to be all about byzantine process and suffocating approval boards. It can be used to provide clear permission for teams to innovate.

December 19th, 2016

Forget code coverage – test design should be driven by behaviours

Test coverage statistics are much loved by management teams and code quality tools. They tend to associate a high level of coverage with robust, well-managed code bases. Wrongly, as it turns out.

September 20th, 2016

What’s in a name? Three-lettered acronyms and their impact on development culture

Three-lettered acronyms can be a useful tool for providing brevity, but they can also give rise to a coded language that contributes to a cold and impersonal development culture.

June 28th, 2016

Should microservices share technologies and platform capabilities?

Should agile teams be encouraged to share capabilities or be given total autonomy over their technology choices? For larger organisations this can become a trade-off between economies of scale and speed of delivery.

May 22nd, 2016

How do you foster “technical excellence” in an agile development culture?

Technical excellence is one of those slightly nebulous phrases with many different interpretations. In an agile context this means removing constraints and it is more than just a team responsibility.

May 5th, 2016

Managing services that don’t have clear code ownership

How do you organise code ownership for services that do not align conveniently with team or organisational boundaries?

January 18th, 2016

Informatica Cloud development best practices

Informatica Cloud is a powerful environment but a pretty unforgiving one. Here are some best practices that I have picked up from implementing the platform.

August 11th, 2015

Most software architecture diagrams are useless

The best architecture diagrams act as a map – if an architect can’t express a system clearly and concisely then they probably don’t understand it properly.

June 12th, 2015

Deploying a Windows Service remotely with Powershell

As with any deployment automation, there’s a fair amount of duct tape and chicken wire involved in deploying a Windows Service remotely.

April 6th, 2015

Using logstash, ElasticSearch and log4net for centralized logging in Windows

The ability to collate and interrogate your logs is an essential part of any distributed architecture. This generally involves stitching together different technologies via configuration.

February 21st, 2014

Lean development’s “last responsible moment” should address uncertainty, not justify procrastination

Deferring decisions to the “last responsible moment” can help you to adapt to the inevitable uncertainty that comes with agile development. The risk is that it can become an excuse for uncertainty that undermines development velocity.

August 12th, 2013

Agile velocity is not a measure of productivity

Agile does not necessarily lend itself to management reporting. The few metrics it exposes are designed to support internal planning rather than external measurement. It can be tempting to re-purpose velocity as a measure of productivity, though this will only distort team planning without saying anything meaningful.

June 4th, 2013

Sharing APIs in an organisation: challenges and pitfalls

Sharing services and APIs can appeal to a desire to reduce duplication and improve development efficiency. It’s a worthy ambition though the journey there can be littered with costly traps for the unwary.

January 15th, 2013

Sharing code between geographically distributed development teams

Large-scale development increasingly involves distributed teams as organizations seek to manage costs and leverage resources on a global scale. However, sharing code between distant development teams gives rise to problems that can only be addressed in part by processes and tools. You also need teams to communicate directly and build trust.

September 3rd, 2012

How to manage down the payments on your technical debt

Technical debt may be a great metaphor to describe the corrosive effect of quick and dirty design decisions, but it can be difficult to identify, measure and manage.

April 30th, 2012

Why refactoring code is almost always better than rewriting it

Developers and architects like to build things, so their initial impulse is often to flatten the place, lay some stronger foundations and build something impressive. It can be difficult to get them excited about incremental innovation, even when this is generally the most sensible approach from both a technical and commercial perspective.

April 11th, 2012

The code reuse myth: why internal software reuse initiatives tend to fail

Despite all the best intentions, software reuse tends to be confined to third party frameworks and tools rather than being an integral part of the development process. Are we expecting too much from software reuse and should we learn to set our sights a little lower?

December 29th, 2011

10 myths about Quality Assurance in software development

Everybody would agree that quality is an important part of the software development process. However, the complexity involved in delivering quality is often poorly understood and the amount of effort it requires tends to be underestimated.

July 3rd, 2011

Why you should never use a proof of concept in development projects

A proof of concept is often proposed as a way to quickly demonstrate viability. In most cases it does nothing of the sort and merely delivers a quick hack that can undermine good system design.

February 23rd, 2011

Automating Adobe Air builds using Ant and Flex

The Flex SDK does contain some support for build scripting with Apache Ant. However, as with all automated build management, some script hacking is required to get a smooth automated build working for an AIR application.

February 3rd, 2011

Estimation pitfalls: Why software development estimates are so difficult

Estimates are, in essence, a kind of crystal ball gazing. You are making a series of educated guesses about how long something will take whilst often being hampered by imperfect understanding and squeezed by commercial pressures.