Øredev 2010, in retrospect
So, Øredev has come and passed. I have not been able to attend the last couple of years. This year I attended two days, Wednesday and Thursday (November 10 and 11). To summarize an event like that in a blog post is not very easy to do, but I will give it a shot. It will be a bit sprawling but, if nothing else, it can serve as memory notes for me at some point in the future.
This year Øredev was held at a venue called Slagthuset (article in Swedish). The venue is located in a very good spot, right next to the train station in Malmö, so it’s very easy to get there. The session rooms were built in larger halls with temporary walls around them. This worked fairly well, but sound travelled between the rooms. For many sessions that I attended this was not really a problem, but during some sessions the sound from neighboring session rooms became an issue.
The stage of each room (at least the ones that I saw; mainly on the .NET and Agile tracks) was arranged in the same way; a small round “bar table” at the right hand side (as seen from the audience), and with a cylinder formed loudspeaker standing next to the stage on the left-hand side. These two obstructed the view for people that were seated towards the edges of the room. Visibility would have improved greatly if these (especially the loudspeakers) were pushed back a bit towards the back wall. Perhaps there were (sound technical) reasons for keeping the speaker along the front edge of the stage though.
That is just about all negative stuff you will find in this text. From here on it’s all praise Everything else was a very positive experience; the food, the speakers, the attendants and the overall atmosphere all helped making this a very nice event.
The Wednesday keynote was held by Dr. Jeffrey Norris of NASA Jet Propulsion Lab. He shared the story of how Alexander Graham Bell invented the phone, as an illustration of Agile thinking. The key message was that Bell succeeded because he had a Vision, he was willing to Risk a lot to get there, and he did not quickly commit to a specific solution, but instead kept many doors open and explored several paths. These qualities were shown to be shared by several people behind great inventions. Of course there was a touch of NASA in the talk as well; the story of how the Apollo 11 space ship came to get the design it did was told using some really cool 3D presentation technique involving printed cards that were interpreted by a camera that superimposed 3D objects on the screen.(check it out here).
The Thursday keynote was equally inspiring, and not only because there was not a [insert favorite presentation software] slide in sight. John Seddon talked about how we often focus on the wrong things, essentially indicating that when you manage something, that something tends to grow. Many organizations focus on managing cost so, well, the cost tends to go up. So focus should be on managing value instead. Suprise
In his first session Glenn Block shared some insight in what is coming next in WCF. I must say that I really like how the WCF team seems to manage to walk the fine line between isolating service implementation from details on the format used for sending data to the client, while at the same time allowing (but not requiring) you as a developer to have detailed control over the process.
Jim Benson talked some about the psychology of Kanban. I recognized myself in a lot of what he said. My first experience with working with Kanban was an almost physical sense how work flowed in the project, and the great satisfaction of seeing the project advancing even if I was a bit stuck on a task.
The Diana Larsen session that I attended discussed six skills needed for members in a team to collaborate efficiently (Communicate, Built Trust, Make Decisions, Hold Effective Meetings, Share Leadership and Engage Conflict). An interesting touch in her talk was the photos that illustrated the points; they were taken by Diana, showing situations and team members that she had worked with, so she could say stuff like “that guy sitting there, his name is James, he had this situation when…” and so on, which I felt added an extra feeling that she knew what she was talking about; these were real-world examples, not paper products.
Ade Miller gave a talk walking through some patterns of parallel programming using a very good mix of illuminating slides and sample code. The sample was a simple financial application that showed the effects of different kinds of parallelization (hint; speed improved). He also handed out copies the book of Parallel Programming with Microsoft .NET to the people that attended.
Glenn Block returned with a session on the Reactive Extensions framework for .NET, which in short provides an event based model for asynchronous data exchange. His talk was followed by Roy Osherove giving a talk about how to review test code, pointing out that tests should be Maintainable (reuse code, use object factories) and Readable and that you must be able to Trust your tests. He stressed that test code should contain an absolute minimum (preferably no) logic, and that it should lean on static test data.
Jon Skeet talked (or rather demonstrated) some funny corner cases in C#, showing, amongst other things, how you can “override” extension methods, something that is quite useful for diagnostic purposes.
On the Thursday evening Øredev opened the doors for various communities, under the name Øredev Open. Diversify sponsored (together with Microsoft) an event organized by Swenug. Three speakers were invited and given one 20-minute slot each. Greg Young announced Mighty Moose, a tool that runs on top of AutoTest.NET. Mighty Moose will monitor the file system to detect when you save a file. It will then build the project, perform an analysis of what tests that may be affected by the change, and then automatically run these tests. This might be a huge time saver, especially in projects with a large number of tests. Mighty Moose does not seem to have an internet home yet, but follow Greg on Twitter if you are interested.
From what I understand the Friday was no worse, and I will really make sure to clear the whole Øredev week in my calendar next year.
Kudos to Michael Tiberg and his team for the great achievement of making this happen.