Friday, August 8, 2008

Back from Agile 2008 - what did I learn?

Agile 2008 was hectic and I couldn't stay for all 4 days, so I know I missed out on lots of great ideas. However, I have the cd, and the phone-book-sized book of research papers and experience reports, which I can delve into as soon as we get done with our final manuscript revisions!

It's always so good to see the friends I only get to see once a year, as well as meet people I only know through the Internt. There were so many attendees this year, I didn't run into everybody I know, but great to see the ones I did run into.

I was reminded of how welcoming the agile community is in general, and what good people they are. One of my role models is Kay Johansen. She rocks because she's good at developing AND testing. She's both highly technical and great with people. Her workshops are always fun and super effective. She and her husband Zhon taught me mind mapping, which Janet and I have used to great effect to write our book. I'm looking at her materials from the "testing with a purpose" clinic she did at Agile 2008, and it reminded me that I don't focus enough on declarative testing, I get too involved in the "how" instead of the "what".

I met Patrick Wilson-Welsh this year because he asked me to help him with his tutorial on 'flipping the automated test triangle'. Patrick is such an engaging speaker, and he has a gift for fun group exercises - who else would think of having each group compose a Haiku about obstacles to automated unit tests? Like Kay, he is one of those quietly competent people, who is ready to learn from others. I loved hearing how he has been pairing with the developers at his current gig, letting them see he knows what he's doing, before helping them think of ways to improve. People learn a lot more from that than from some "expert" just coming in and telling them what to do.

And the best part about Patrick and Kay is they are two of the nicest people I know. So, I will strive to achieve their level of expertise and knowledge, while trying to help people as best I can, learning something from everyone.

Someone at Agile 2008 observed that there are lots of women at this conference, as opposed to, say, Oopsla, and wondered if it was because Agile creates an environment that women enjoy. I think there's a lot of truth to that. Myself, and most women I know, like the people side of things, we like collaborating with people. Sitting in a corner writing code by myself isn't my idea of fun. If agile development draws more women into our profession, so much the better.

No comments: