Summary of the Schneide Dev Brunch at 2012-10-14

If you couldn’t attend the Schneide Dev Brunch in October 2012, here are the main topics we discussed neatly summarized.

Two weeks ago, we held another Schneide Dev Brunch. The Dev Brunch is a regular brunch on a sunday, only that all attendees want to talk about software development and various other topics. If you bring a software-related topic along with your food, everyone has something to share. The brunch was so well attended that we had trouble to all find a chair and fit at the table. We had to stay inside as the weather was rainy and too cold for prolonged outdoor sessions. Let’s have a look at the main topics we discussed:

Work hard, play hard

The first topic was a summary of the contents of the documentary movie “work hard play hard” about our modern work places. The documentary is a recommended watch for everyone thinking about joining this side of the industry. It’s beautiful sometimes and very painful to watch most times. You might cherish some of the rougher edges on your workplace afterwards. The DVD is out now.

Dual Monitoring

A short discussion about the efficiency increase that happens just by adding another monitor to your desk. There was no dispute: If you don’t at least try it, you waste money. That’s what I meant when I blogged about the second monitor being an profitable investment. Just one downfall, it shouldn’t end like this.

Management by Directive

Another discussion about the management of large departments. The “directive issuer” manager style is a common sight in this environment. I won’t repeat the discussion itself, but rather add an amusing story about an ex-military commander running a software development company. Enjoy!

Review of the Sneak Preview “Quality Assurance Best Practices in Karlsruhe”

There was a “sneak preview” organised by the VKSI, a local association of software engineers a few weeks ago. The topic of the whole event was “Quality Assurance Best Practices in Karlsruhe“. The event was divided into three independent presentations with different topics:

  • Non-Functional Software Tests” by Gebhard Ebeling: The talk was about realistic load- and performance testing of complex applications (and websites). While the presentation omitted tools and code completely, there were some take-aways even for developers that had never performed these types of tests before. This was arguably the best presentation of the event.
  • Contracts im Software Engineering” by Ben Romberg and Stefan Schürle: This talk was about the benefits of software contracts (think about checked method or class invariants) and the presentation of a particular implementation in Java, namely C4J. The perceived problem with this solution was the rather clumsy source code necessary to define the contracts.
  • MoDisco Software Modernization & Analysis” by Benjamin Klatt: MoDisco builds a model out of source code that is detailled enough to apply meaningful transformations to it and have the exact same source code (plus transformed code) as output. The idea looked very promising, but the presentation lacked actual source code examples. Nonetheless, MoDisco proves that there is a future for modell-driven analysis.

We had a lengthy discussion about software contracts and Design By Contract (DBC) in general. One tool that got mentioned several times was “CoFoJa” from (at least initially) Google.

Book review: Java Application Architecture: Modularity Patterns with Examples Using OSGI

In the rather new book of the Robert C. Martin signature series, Kirk Knoernschild tackles the hard task to teach software architecture through a book. One participant read the book and is very happy about the experience and insight he got from it. The book itself is repetitive at times, but that adds to the accessibility of the topic at hand when you jump right into a chapter. Additionally to the modularity and architecture aspects, you’ll learn OSGI through the code examples. This books gets a recommendation.

Book review: ATDD by Example

Another new book is from Markus Gärtner, of the Kent Beck signature series this time. It takes the reader by the hand and shows a way to use Cucumber, FitNesse and of course Behavior-Driven Development as a tool-and-process framework to implement (Acceptance-) Test Driven Development. None of our participants read the book fully yet, but it’s already a promising start. If you are looking for a new book about testing (after having read the great GOOS book), don’t hesitate. Another recommendation to read.

Visitor design pattern breaks modularization

One participant brought up the problem that he wanted absolute modularization in his application layout, but used a visitor design pattern at some central place. This breaks modularization, as the type information is exposed too much. We discussed the problem with some diagrams and sketches and came up with several alternatives, each with their own advantages and drawbacks. That was a great code design session among seasoned professionals.

Why are services included into Grails?

Another discussion was about the Grails web framework and the necessity for a service layer or service classes explicitly. We sketched out the fundamental architecture of a Grails application and discussed different possible alternatives to a dedicated service layer. There are some nice features about Grails services (like injection by convention, transaction and scope), but nothing really too sophisticated to distinguish them from POGOs. The discussion was open-ended, as usual with complex topics.

Review of a workshop on agile software-engineering

Lately, a participant visited a workshop on agile software-engineering, focussing a lot on SCRUM and XP. The workshop ran for several days and included lots of hands-on exercises. The workshop itself provided not much new content for seasoned agile developers, but served as an accurate and thorough introduction for younger developers. A major part of the workshop were social aspects of agile environments. Concepts like team empowerement are usually not taught in technical workshops. Important additional topics comprised of agile planning and estimation and proper retrospectives. The workshop itself was more of a entry-level introduction to agile development, but very effective in that regard.

Epilogue

As usual, the Dev Brunch contained a lot more chatter and talk than listed here. The high number of attendees makes for an unique experience every time. We are looking forward to the next Dev Brunch at the Softwareschneiderei. And as always, we are open for guests and future regulars. Just drop us a notice and we’ll invite you over next time.

Summary of the Schneide Dev Brunch at 2012-07-15

If you couldn’t attend the Schneide Dev Brunch in July 2012, here are the main topics we discussed neatly summarized.

Two weeks ago, we held another Schneide Dev Brunch. The Dev Brunch is a regular brunch on a sunday, only that all attendees want to talk about software development and various other topics. If you bring a software-related topic along with your food, everyone has something to share. The brunch was so well attended that we had trouble to all find a chair and fit at the table. There were quite some new participants, so the introductory round was necessary again. Let’s have a look at the main topics we discussed:

Choosing Google Web Toolkit

If you start the development of a new web application today, there are many frameworks to call to aid. Most of them will not lend a hand, but mostly stand in the way. In a short presentation, we learnt about the arguments in favor and against the use of the Google Web Toolkit for the development of a highly customizable web application. The two most important aspects were that GWT enables desktop-like “real” (as opposed to “web”) development but still provides enough hooks to embrace the web-only developers.

Spock Framework

The Spock testing framework tries to bring natural and expressive syntax back to testing. It mixes the best of most current testing and specification frameworks together in a groovy-based domain specific language. The first contact with Spock of one of our attendees was very pleasant. The framework provides opiniated default tools for most modern testing aspects (e.g. mocking), but is extremely integrative with all current testing libraries. The take-away of this topic was: Try Spock for your next adventures in testing.

Schneide job offer

We from the Softwareschneiderei host the Dev Brunch for nearly six years now. In all these years, we grew slowly without the need to announce open job offers. Now is the time where even we have to insert a little bit of advertising into the brunch: we are hiring. Enough said.

SWT UI-based tests

The Standard Widget Toolkit is the graphical foundation of the Eclipse platform. It’s a bit dated (like most Java-based UI toolkits) and doesn’t really embrace automatic UI-based tests. There is SWTBot, but it doesn’t provide the power of a tool like FEST-Swing. We discussed the situation, but couldn’t offer much help.

Decorator pattern

Another question for discussion was the usage of the classic decorator design pattern in a rather twisted use case. Without going into much detail, the best option would have been the use of Mixins, but the environment (Java) doesn’t provide them. It was an interesting discussion with lots of different solution attempts. We didn’t find the definitive answer, but there was some good inspiration in the train of thoughts.

The programming language Go

One guest offered us a quick overview over the new programming language Go, developed by Google. To sum up a few aspects that were mentioned, Go is compiled to native code, doesn’t offer type inheritance but compile-time interface binding (if it matches, it binds) and so-called goroutines. The latter are slightly improved coroutines. The communication between objects is mostly done with channels, a very flexible event notification system. The feature with the most raised eyebrows was the visibility modifier: capitalization. If your name begins with a capital letter, it is exported. You can quickly learn the basics of the language with the web-based “Tour of Go”.

Summary of Java Forum Stuttgart

One attendee summed up his impressions and experiences with this year’s Java Forum Stuttgart, a local Java-based conference. The day was worthwile and informative, but some basic pieces went missing. For example, you weren’t provided with a notepad and a pen and had to go on a hunt at the exhibitor booths. The single extraordinary talk that you’ll remember for years didn’t happen, either. Most visited talks were solid, but not outstanding. Most noteworthy tools this year were Gerrit and Sonar.

Data loses its location

A final aspect for open discussion was the fact that stored data loses its location. With all modern web- or cloud-based services, the notion of a “storage medium” begins to lose meaning. And with the fast mobile internet access, you won’t have to reside at a specific location to access all your data. For the next generations of computer users (read: kids), data will behave like the notorious aether: always there, never affixable.

Epilogue

As usual, the Dev Brunch contained a lot more chatter and talk than listed here. The high number of attendees makes for an unique experience every time. We are looking forward to the next Dev Brunch at the Softwareschneiderei. And as always, we are open for guests and future regulars. Just drop us a notice and we’ll invite you over next time.

Summary of the Schneide Dev Brunch at 2012-05-27

If you couldn’t attend the Schneide Dev Brunch in May 2012, here are the main topics we discussed neatly summarized.

Yesterday, we held another Schneide Dev Brunch on our roofgarden. The Dev Brunch is a regular brunch on a sunday, only that all attendees want to talk about software development and various other topics. If you bring a software-related topic along with your food, everyone has something to share.

We had to do another introductory round because there were new participants with new and very interesting topics. This brunch was very well attended and rich in information. Let’s have a look at the main topics we discussed:

Agile wording (especially SCRUM)

This was just a quick overview over the common agile vocabulary and what ordinary people associate with them. A few examples are “scrum“, “sprint” and “master”. We agreed that some terms are flawed without deeper knowledge about the context in agile.

Book: “Please Understand Me”

if you are interested in the Myers-Briggs classification of personality types (keywords: are you INTJ, ESTP or INFP?), this is the book to go. It uses a variation of the personality test to classify and explain yourself, your motives and personal traits. And if you happen to know about the personality type of somebody else, it might open your eyes to the miscommunication that will likely occur sooner or later. Just don’t go overboard with it, it’s just a model about the most apparent personality characteristics. The german translation of the book is called “Versteh mich bitte” and has some flaws with typing and layouting errors. If you can overlook them, it might be the missing piece of insight (or empathy) you need to get through to somebody you know.

TV series: “Dollhouse”

As most of us are science fiction buffs and hold a special place in our heart for the series “Firefly”, the TV series “Dollhouse” by Joss Whedon should be a no-brainer to be interested in. This time, it lasted two seasons and brings up numerous important questions about programmability every software developer should have a personal answer for. Just a recommendation if you want to adopt another series with limited episode count.

Wolfpack Programming

A new concept of collaborative programming is “wolfpack programming” (refer to pages 21-26). It depends on a shared (web-based) editor that several developers use at once to develop code for the same tasks. The idea is that the team organizes itself like a pack of wolves hunting deer. Some alpha wolves lead groups of developers to a specific task and the hunt begins. Some wolves/developers are running/programming while the others supervise the situation and get involved when convenient. The whole code is “huntable”, so it sounds like a very chaotic experience. There are some tools and reports of experiments with wolfpack programming in Smalltalk. An interesting idea and maybe the next step beyond pair programming. Some more information about the editor can be found on their homepage and in this paper.

Book: “Durchstarten mit Scala”

Sorry for the german title, but the book in this review is a german introductory book about Scala. It’s not very big (around 200 pages) but covers a lot of topics in short, with a list of links and reading recommendations for deeper coverage. If you are a german developer and used to a modern object-oriented language, this book will keep its promise to kickstart you with Scala. Everything can be read and understood easily, with only a few topics that are more challenging than there are pages for them in the book. The topics range from build to test and other additional frameworks and tools, not just core Scala. This book got a recommendation for being concise, profound and understandable (as long as you can understand german).

Free Worktime Rule

This was a short report about employers that pay their developers a fixed salary, but don’t define the workload that should happen in return. Neither the work time nor the work content is specified or bounded. While this sounds great in the first place (two hours of work a week with full pay, anybody?), we came to the conclusion that peer pressure and intrinsic motivation will likely create a dangerous environment for eager developers. Most of us developers really want to work and need boundaries to not burn out in a short time. But an interesting thought nevertheless.

Experimental Eclipse Plugin: “Code_Readability”

This was the highlight of the Dev Brunch. One attendee presented his (early stage) plugin for Eclipse to reformat source code in a naturally readable manner. The effect is intriguing and very promising. We voted vehemently for early publication of the source code on github (or whatever hosting platform seems suitable). If the plugin is available, we will provide you with a link. The plugin has a tradition in the “Three refactorings to grace” article of the last Dev Brunch.

Light Table IDE

A short description of the new IDE concept named “Light Table”. While the idea itself isn’t new at all, the implementation is very inspirational. In short, Lighttable lets you program code and evaluates it on the fly, creating a full feedback loop in milliseconds. The effects on your programming habits are… well, see and try it for yourself, it’s definitely worth a look.

Inventing on Principles

Light Table and other cool projects are closely linked to Bret Victor, the speaker in the mind-blowing talk “Inventing on Principles”. While the talk is nearly an hour of playtime, you won’t regret listening. The first half of the talk is devoted to several demo projects Bret made to illustrate his way of solving problems and building things. They are worth a talk alone. But in the second half of the talk, Bret explains the philosophy behind his motivation and approach. He provides several examples of people who had a mission and kept implementing it. This is very valuable and inspiring stuff, it kept most of us on the edge of our seats in awe. Don’t miss this talk!

Albatros book page reminder (and Leselotte)

If you didn’t upgrade your reading experience to e-book readers yet, you might want to look at these little feature upgrades for conventional books. The Albatros bookmark is a page remembering indexer that updates itself without your intervention. We could test it on a book and it works. You might want to consider it especially for your travelling literature. This brought us to another feature that classic dead wood books are lacking: the self-sustained positioning. And there’s a solution, too: The “Leselotte” is a german implementation of the bean bag concept for a flexible book stand. It got a recommendation by an attendee, too.

Bullshit-Meter

If you ever wondered what you just read: It might have been bullshit. To test a text on its content of empty phrases, filler and hot air, you can use the blabla-meter for german or english text. Just don’t make the mistake to examine the last apidoc comments you hopefully have written. It might crush your already little motivation to write another one.

Review on Soplets

In one of the last talks on the Java User Group Karlsruhe, there was a presentation of “Soplets”, a new concept to program in Java. One of our attendees summarized the talk and the concept for us. You might want to check out Soplets on your own, but we weren’t convinced of the approach. There are many practical problems with the solution that aren’t addressed yet.

Review on TDD code camp

One of our attendees lead a code camp with students, targeting Test Driven Development as the basic ruleset for programming. The camp rules closely resembled the rules of Code Retreats by Corey Haines and had Conway’s Game of Life as the programming task, too. With only rudimentary knowledge about TDD and Test First, the students only needed four iterations to come up with really surprising and successful approaches. It was a great experience, but showed clearly how traditional approaches like “structured object-oriented analysis” stands in the way of TDD. Example: Before any test was written to help guide the way, most students decided on the complete type structure of the software and didn’t aberrate from this decision even when the tests told them to.

Report of Grails meetup

Earlier last week, the first informal Grails User Group Karlsruhe meeting was held. It started on a hot late evening some distance out of town in a nice restaurant. The founding members got to know each other and exchanged basic information about their settings. The next meeting is planned with presentations. We are looking forward to what this promising user group will become.

Epilogue

This Dev Brunch was a lot of fun and new information and inspiration. As always, it had a lot more content than listed here, this summary is just a best-of. We are looking forward to the next Dev Brunch at the Softwareschneiderei. And as always, we are open for guests and future regulars. Just drop us a notice and we’ll invite you over next time.

Summary of the Schneide Dev Brunch at 2012-03-25

If you couldn’t attend the Schneide Dev Brunch in March 2012, here are the main topics we discussed for you to review.

This summary is a bit late and my only excuse it that the recent weeks were packed with action. But the good news is: The Schneide Dev Brunch is still alive and gaining traction with an impressive number of participants for the most recent event. The Schneide Dev Brunch is a regular brunch in that you gather together to have a late breakfast or early dinner on a sunday, only that all attendees want to talk about software development (and various other topics). If you bring a software-related topic along with your food, everyone has something to share. We were able to sit in the sun on our roofgarden and enjoy the first warm spring weekend.

We had to do introductory rounds because there were quite some new participants this time. And they brought good topics and insights with them. Let’s have a look at the topics we discussed:

Checker Framework

This isn’t your regular java framework, meant to reside alongside all the other jar files in your dependency folder. The Checker framework enhances java’s type system with “pluggable types”. You have to integrate it in your runtime, your compiler and your IDE to gain best results, but after that you’re nothing less than a superhero among regulars. Imagine pluggable types as additional layers to your class hierarchy, but in the z-axis. You’ll have multiple layers of type hierachies and can include them into your code to aid your programming tasks. A typical use case is the compiler-based null checking ability, while something like Perl’s taint mode is just around the corner.

But, as our speaker pointed out, after a while the rough edges of the framework will show up. It still is somewhat academic and lacks integration sometimes. It’s a great help until it eventually becomes a burden.

Hearing about the Checker framework left us excited to try it sometimes. At least, it’s impressive to see what you can do with a little tweaking at the compiler level.

Getting Stuck

A blog entry by Jeff Wofford inspired one of us to talk about the notion of “being stuck” in software development. Jeff Wofford himself wrote a sequel to the blog entry, differentiating four kinds of stuck. We could relate to the concept and have seen it in the wild before. The notion of “yak shaving” entered the discussion soon. In summary, we discussed the different types of being stuck and getting stuck and what we think about it. While there was no definite result, everyone could take away some insight from the debate.

Zen to Done

One topic was a review of the Zen to Done book on self-organization and productivity improvement. The methodology can be compared to “Getting Things Done“, but is easier to begin with. It defines a bunch of positive habits to try and establish in your everyday life. Once you’ve tried them all, you probably know what works best for you and what just doesn’t resonate at all. On a conceptional level, you can compare Zen to Done to the Clean Code Developer, both implementing the approach of “little steps” and continuous improvement. Very interesting and readily available for your own surveying. There even exists a german translation of the book.

Clean Code Developer mousepads

Speaking of the Clean Code Developer. We at the Softwareschneiderei just published our implementation of mousepads for the Clean Code Developer on our blog. During the Dev Brunch, we reviewed the mousepads and recognized the need for an english version. Stay tuned for them!

Book: Making software

The book “Making software” is a collection of essays from experienced developers, managers and scientists describing the habits, beliefs and fallacies of modern software development. Typical for a book from many different authors is the wide range of topics and different quality levels in terms of content, style and originality. The book gets a recommendation because there should be some interesting reads for everyone inside. One essay was particularly interesting for the reviewer: “How effective is Test-Driven Development?” by Burak Turhan and others. The article treats TDD like a medicine in a clinical trial, trying to determine the primary effects, the most effective dosage and the unwanted side effects. Great fun for every open-minded developer and the origin of a little joke: If there was a pill you could take to improve your testing, would a placebo pill work, too?

Book: Continuous Delivery

This book is the starting point of this year’s hype: “Continuous Delivery” by Jez Humble and others. Does it live up to the hype? In the opinion of our reviewer: yes, mostly. It’s a solid description of all the practices and techniques that followed continuous integration. The Clean Code Developer listed them as “Continuous Integration II” until the book appeared and gave them a name. The book is a highly recommened read for the next years. Hopefully, the practices become state-of-the-art for most projects in the near future, just like it went with CI. The book has a lot of content but doesn’t shy away from repetition, too. You should read it in one piece, because later chapters tend to refer to earlier content quite often.

Three refactorings to grace

The last topic was the beta version of an article about the difference that three easy refactorings can make on test code. The article answered the statement of a participant that he doesn’t follow the DRY principle in test code in a way. It is only available in a german version right now, but will probably be published on the blog anytime soon in a proper english translation.

Epilogue

This Dev Brunch was a lot of fun and had a lot more content than listed here. Some of us even got sunburnt by the first real sunny weather this year. We are looking forward to the next Dev Brunch at the Softwareschneiderei. And as always, we are open for guests and future regulars. Just drop us a notice and we’ll invite you over next time.

Follow-up to our Dev Brunch October 2010

A follow-up to our October 2010 Dev Brunch, summarizing the talks and providing bonus material.

Last Sunday , we held our Dev Brunch for October 2010. We gathered inside (no more roof garden sessions for this year) and had a good time with lots of chatter besides the topics listed below.

The Dev Brunch

If you want to know more about the meaning of the term “Dev Brunch” or how we implement it, have a look at the follow-up posting of the brunch in October 2009. We continue to allow presence over topics. Our topics for the brunch were:

  • Beyond Scrum – The first-hand tale of a local team that transformed their process to do Scrum and failed for several reasons. They finally admitted failure and search for alternatives since. Great stories of mistakes you don’t have to make yourself to learn the lessons now. We decided to transform at least some aspects of the whole story in an essay, as it’s too valuable to not be published.
  • Code Camp experiences – We already blogged about it, but this talk gave away more details and more insight from the trainer’s perspective. The speaker guided a two-day developer code camp in the spirit of code retreats with an experienced team and draw several conclusions from the event. In short: It’s well worth the time and you will see your team differently afterwards. Other attendees added their experiences with team games that reveal social structures and behaviour even quicker.
  • Local dev gossip – Yes, this is a rather unusual topic for the offical topic list, but we exchanged so much gossip talk this time that it qualifies as a topic on its own behalf. The best summarization of this topic is that there’s a lot of moving around in the local developer community, at least from our point of view. We look forward to a very exciting next year.

As there was no dev brunch in September (due to several reasons), we needed to talk about the news and rumours of two months at once. And there are a lot of things going on around here in the moment. A great brunch with lots of useful information.

Follow-up to our Dev Brunch August 2010

A follow-up to our August 2010 Dev Brunch, summarizing the talks and providing bonus material.

Last Sunday , we held our Dev Brunch for August 2010. We had to meet early in August, as there will be a lot of holiday absence in the next weeks. The setting was more classical again, with a real brunch on a late sunday morning. We had a lot more registrations than finally attendees, but it was said this was caused by a proper birthday party the night before. Due to rainy weather, we stayed inside and discussed the topics listed below.

The Dev Brunch

If you want to know more about the meaning of the term “Dev Brunch” or how we implement it, have a look at the follow-up posting of the brunch in October 2009. We continue to allow presence over topics. Our topics for the brunch were:

  • Clean Code Developer Initiative – The Clean Code Developer movement uses colored wristbands to subsequentially focus on different aspects of principles and practices of a professional software developer. Despite the name, it’s a german group with german web sites. But everybody who read Uncle Bob’s “Clean Code” knows what the curriculum is about. The talk gave a general summary about the intiative and some firsthand experiences with following the rules. If you read the book or are interested in profound software development, give it a try.
  • Non-bare repositories in git – The distributed version control system git differentiates between “bare” and “non-bare” repositories. If you are a local developer, you’ll use the non-bare type. When two developers with similar non-bare repositories (e.g. of the same project) meet, they can’t easily share commits or patches with the “push” command. This is a consequence of the “push” not being the exact opposite of the “fetch” command. If you try to synchronize two non-bare git repositories with push commands, you’ll most likely fail. The only safe approach is to introduce an intermediate bare repository or a branch in on of the repositories that only gets used by extern users. Even the repository owner has to push to this branch then. We discussed the setup and consequences, which are small in a broader use case and sad for ad-hoc workgroups.

Retrospection of the brunch

The group of attendees was small and a bit hung over. This led to a brunch that lacked technical topics a bit but emphasized social and cultural topics that didn’t make it on the list above. A great brunch just before the holiday season.

Follow-up to our Dev Brunch July 2010

A follow-up to our July 2010 Dev Brunch, summarizing the talks and providing bonus material.

Last Saturday, we held our Dev Brunch for July 2010. The setting of this brunch was unusual, as we didn’t brunch, but cooked spaghetti (to be exact: had spaghetti cooked while we ranted about different workplaces). We also didn’t start in the late morning, but in the early afternoon. Later on, a LAN computer game party was held in our office, limiting our time-frame a bit. Due to rainy weather, we stayed inside and discussed the topics listed below.

The Dev Brunch

If you want to know more about the meaning of the term “Dev Brunch” or how we implement it, have a look at the follow-up posting of the brunch in October 2009. We continue to allow presence over topics. Our topics for the brunch were:

  • Your own Java ResourceBundle implementation – Since Java 6, there is the new possibility to add your own ResourceBundle formats under the generic API using ResourceBundle.Control. We discussed several possible use cases and had an example case mocked up in source code. The API enables you to do what was impossible beforehands but isn’t as polished as it could be. Worth a closer look if you want to combine ResourceBundle with your i18n database, for example.
  • Thoughts on “Team Rooms” – Lately, there was a very good blog entry about team rooms and how they are introduced by Martin Fowler. The article is titled “The rise of the cattle office” and has some valid points. But nearly every attendee of the brunch likes working in a team room. We had a great discussion that can’t be summarized in a single sentence, but one advice: Mr. Fowler, please put up some nicer teaser image in your bliki!
  • Retrospective of the Java Forum Stuttgart 2010 – The Java Forum Stuttgart 2010 is a local conference dedicated to Java. It grew into a 1k+ developer’s meeting for southwest germany. You cannot avoid to meet former colleagues and chat non-stop in the pauses. The presentations are mostly very professional and worthwhile. We learnt a bit about long-term serialization issues (put a version in your XML namespace!), better JUnit (Rules are cool!), some Dependency Injection myths (though this presentation could have been snappier) and got introduced to Apache Hadoop (Map/Reduce at its best). Embedded Java still is the hell we remembered it to be. But the best presentation of the day clearly was Dr. Simon Wiest talking about Hudson and advanced techniques to speed up your build.

Retrospection of the brunch

The group of attendees was small again, with several firsttime guests. This helped the disgression factor a lot, we talked a lot about all kinds of topics that didn’t make it on the list above. The time and setup was a bit unusual, but the brunch itself was fun and insightful as always.

Follow-up to our Dev Brunch June 2010

A follow-up to our June 2010 Dev Brunch, summarizing the talks and providing bonus material.

Today, we held our Dev Brunch for June 2010. It was a small group of developers this time, too, as some of our usual attendees turned into parents and can’t wrap their head around anything but their kid. First things first. The good news is that today, we had a new attendee that joined our group after reading our blog articles. This time, the communication beforehands went right. Our office roof garden once again served as a great hangout place as we discussed the topics listed below.

The Dev Brunch

If you want to know more about the meaning of the term “Dev Brunch” or how we implement it, have a look at the follow-up posting of the brunch in October 2009. We continue to allow presence over topics. Our topics for the brunch were:

Google Web Toolkit, internationalization (i18n) and customer customizable text – This wasn’t a presentation, but more a discussion of different options around the fact that GWT i18n works best (and smoothest) when baked into the compiled binary. If you have a customer that wants to change every textual aspect of your projects, chances are that performance will suffer. If your job is to provide a flexible, yet powerful base product as a starting point for individual customer solutions, there’s a huge tradeoff to make here.

First-hand experience of Yoxos 5 Beta – The EclipseSource Yoxos Launcher is a cool new product that helps to keep the management overhead in setting up your IDE (eclipse as you might already have concluded) minimal. It’s a little program that downloads and sets up everything you specified in your launch profile and starts a ready-to-use eclipse instance. You can share the launch profile and keep it in sync so everybody in your group can be sure to work with the complete official setup. This talk was about a real-world use case, the unique features and the areas that still need a bit more work. Remember that it’s beta.

A book chapter review of The Passionate Programmer – The book is the second revision of the former “My Job Went To India…” book from the Pragmatic Bookshelf. It contains insights and advices on making a living in software development. It also has a focus on enterprise career planning in the IT with the background threat of outsourcing or even offshoring. Two chapters were discussed in more detail: That you should keep a map of your technology skills up-to-date (like this example) and that you really should seek to make friends with software maintainance work, as it probably will be the actual job that pays your bills.

Introduction to Code Squiggles – One of the results of a experimental quest to improve the coding style in Java are Code Squiggles. There will be a full-detail blog entry about them shortly, so this is just a teaser. Code Squiggles don’t add functionality or safety to your code, but seek to improve the readability of your code. The ultimate goal is to have your program written down in plain english with a few funny letters in between. Basically, they are intentional bloat to help the casual code reader.

As usual, the topics ranged from first-hand experiences and impressions to literature reviews and research. For additional information provided by the talk authors, check out the comment section (or leave a comment to request further content). Comments and resources might be in german language.

Retrospection of the brunch

Today, we started by giving a quick introduction of ourselves to each other. Being a small group, we digressed a lot more as time wasn’t that much of an issue. The list above is in no way a summary of all the sidenotes and topics we really talked about, it’s just the main topics that served as a starting point for insightful developer chatter. The brunch keeps getting better.

Follow-up to our Dev Brunch May 2010

A follow-up to our May 2010 Dev Brunch, summarizing the talks and providing bonus material.

Last sunday, we held our Dev Brunch for May 2010. It was a small group of developers brunching together this time. One reason was a communication failure on my part, as a crucial email announcing a change in the appointment didn’t reach everyone interested in participating. Sorry for this one again! The other reason was more of a pleasure: Two of our regular brunch attendees are turning into parents. But a core group brunched and talked in the office roof garden, discussing the topics listed below.

The Dev Brunch

If you want to know more about the meaning of the term “Dev Brunch” or how we implement it, have a look at the follow-up posting of the brunch in October 2009. We continue to allow presence over topics. Our topics for the brunch were:

  • Options in Scala – If you are used to traditional programming languages like Java, you might be surprised that you can’t nullify a reference in Scala. There is no concept of “null” in Scala, therefore avoiding the so-called billion dollar mistake (you might want to listen to the guy who invented the mistake, too). If you want to use “uncertain” references, you should look into the Option type of Scala, which was the main topic of this talk. With some code examples, this was a decent introduction into the concept.
  • Summary of the Sensor+Test trade fair – This talk was a short report of the recently visited german Sensor+Test measurement fair in Nuremburg. Details may follow on this blog, but the overall summary is that the measurement industry in Germany and neighbours is mostly self-confident and down-to-earth.
  • The Modbus protocol – This talk was a short introduction to the ancient (but still useful) Modbus protocol and the possibilities to access it in Java. There are at least two projects that provide full coverage of the protocol: jamod and modbus4j. The protocol itself is rather low-level, but sufficient for simple control and data query tasks on an embedded device. The possibility to be mostly agnostic over the physical transport layer is a strength of the Modbus protocol and its implementations.
  • Usage patterns for mocks – Most of us had to confess: we are mockists. But there are many different flavors of using mocks in tests. Inspired by the book “Growing Object-Oriented Software, Guided by Tests”, this talk was an open discussion round about personal mock usage preferences.

As usual, the topics ranged from first-hand experiences and impressions to literature reviews and research. For additional information provided by the talk authors, check out the comment section (or leave a comment to request further content). Comments and resources might be in german language.

Retrospection of the brunch

The usual brunch setup is nearly perfect. What was lacking this time was the coordination of the appointment. To further improve on that point, we introduced a new mailing list, containing everone that is currently interested in participating the brunch.

Follow-up to our Dev Brunch April 2010

A follow-up to our April 2010 Dev Brunch, summarizing the talks and providing bonus material.

Last sunday, we held our Dev Brunch for April 2010. It was the start of the open air season, introducing our new office roof garden. We brunched under a clear, sunny sky (no clouds, even no vapor trails from airplanes, as they aren’t allowed to fly because of some distant volcano ash emission) and talked about agile processes and books. A major part of the brunch was graded as “informal chatter”, just as it should be like.

The Dev Brunch

If you want to know more about the meaning of the term “Dev Brunch” or how we implement it, have a look at the follow-up posting of the brunch in October 2009. We continue to allow presence over topics. Our topics for the brunch were:

  • Agile life planning – Your software development daily routine is to incrementally build software from a backlog and release it after a fixed timebox. What might happen if you transfer this process to your private life (often called “real life”)? You’ll release a week’s life every week and have a week planning meeting on sunday, filling your week/sprint backlog with the most important items of your life’s backlog. Telling from this first hand experience of about a year, it works exceptionally well, improving the leisure time quality and making “progress” visible even at harder times. The only remaining question is who acts as the product owner.
  • Converting to Scrum – First hand experience of a team that, after years of “alarm call”-style development, successfully implemented Scrum as their primary process. The effects were at least less overtime, improved progress tracking, improved code quality (though Scrum is  only a management process!) and less pressure in the project. The customer even adjusted their wording when talking about new features: “next sprint” instead of “immediately, now”. The implemented process isn’t vanilla Scrum, but works nevertheless.
  • Defending Continuous Integration – What if, after an initial phase of excitement over the new tool, the continuous integration server really reveals flaws in your project? There seems to be the tendency to kill the messenger: Shut down the CI server and everything’s fine again. This talk was about the reasoning of both sides and some basic insights gained about machine sharing. Tip of the talk: Reserve your CI server exclusively for this task.
  • Book recommendations – A random collection of technical books read in the last half year, presented with a short summary and personal rating. Titles included were Coders At Work, Founders At Work, 97 Things Every Software Architect Should Know, 97 Things Every Project Manager Should Know, 97 Things Every Programmer Should Know, Hiring the Best Knowledge Workers, Techies & Nerds and Manage Your Project Portfolio. Yes, there are some patterns visible in the book titles. And it’s a good idea to keep some checklist of read articles for most of these books.
  • Dreyfus Model of Skill Acquisition – The Dreyfus Model differentiates five to six different stages of learning some arbitrary skill. It makes assumptions how the members of the stages work, how they process feedback information and what they need to get better. See the comment section for more information and bonus material.

As usual, the topics ranged from first-hand experiences to literature research. For additional information, check out the comment sections. Comments and resources might be in german language.

Retropection of the brunch

Holding the brunch in the bright morning sun, surrounded by rooftops and birds, really is a huge gain for the ambience factor. We even found a solution to produce fresh coffee up there. This will be a fun summer for the Dev Brunch.