Buy cheaper books!

dangersign

Every week plenty of interesting books are released.

Besides the fact that I don’t have the time to read them all, it could start to be quite expensive trying to buy them all!

That’s why I became a big fan of “early release” programs most of the publishers are offering.

O’Reilly, Apress, Manning … they all have their own program which basically offers the same kind of things: an early access to a still-in-development version of forthcoming titles at a lower price!

The nice thing is that as soon as you bought an early release ebook, you will be warned about new version as they become available for download. You’ll even receive (most of the time) the completed ebook as soon as it got released.

Check-out the current roster of available early release books from:

Do no forget to also have a look at Leanpub catalogue. Some of their books are work in progress too (I did not find a specific section on their site, though) You’ll also be warned as soon as a new version is online and you’ll be able to download the final version for free. They have some really reasonably priced bundles, nice free books to download and you can even set your price for paid version!

Happy Reading!

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Extreme Programmers Paris #XProPa – Second meetup

Yesterday I went to the second Extreme Programmers Paris Meetup (#XProPa)

It started with an application code appreciation exercise. The idea behind this is was to go through some code and see how the developer who wrote it tried to be as clean as possible.

The code we went through has been presented by its author himself! Clément Boudereau brought his nice HardMock legacy code mocking framework’s code and explained us why he wrote it that way.

hrdmock

We needed first some explanations on what HardMock is all about before going deep into the code itself! Hardmock is a mocking framework that can produce integration test based mocks. It will work as a behavior recorder that will store the generated mock on a file on your hard drive. All you need to do is to write a complete integration test that might have to connect to a DB through DAL calls, or call any external services, and then extract all the interfaces for any dependencies needed and record the corresponding behaviors. HardMock seems to be a nice way to be able to refactor big balls of mud without having the need to spend as much time on refactoring hard to maintain unit tests as refactoring the legacy code itself!

Now that we knew a bit more about HardMock’s domain and its vocabulary it was time to see the code! Clément strived to make it as clean as possible: he made use of pretty well named variables and methods; he tried to be as SOLID as possible but at the same time he managed find the right balance between the need of abstraction and readability (like providing more than one constructor to users so they can directly call the one with the most common implementation)

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At the end we saw a lot of well written code but the conclusion was that code was not like literature! Even if you know the domain, you can strive to be as clean as possible; it will be always hard to understand the whole story just by reading the code. And as Clément said, your code will never get clean enough; it’s an everlasting improving story!

The second part of the meetup was made of open space discussions about different topics people would like to speak about. I joined the Mob Programming discussion group where Thomas Pierrain told us the way they run their #SORLunchBox project and I also spoke about our own Mob Programming experience at my company.

As often during meetups, it was an open-minding night sharing thoughts with very talented and interesting people! Don’t wait no more and find out what meetups are next to you! See you there?

Bridge the gap between dev team and business people! – Idea #4

This article is the fourth out of an unlimited series (let’s say at least 5!) where I’m gonna try to give you some ideas and easy things to put in place in order to bring your team closer to business people.

Written so far:

Value Stream Mapping

First time I discovered Value Stream Mapping was when reading the very interesting “Lean Enterprise” book by Joanne MoleskyBarry O’Reilly and Jez Humble. The final version of the book will be released in December but the early release version is available for download at a lower price since a few months now.

A Value Stream Mapping is a method from lean-management that allows you to quickly visualize the flow of value delivered from the genesis of a project until the customer delivery. It has originated from manufacturing but it can easily be applied on software development as explained in “Lean Enterprise“.

The exercise is pretty straightforward, you just have to write down all the stages that are necessary to bring an idea to its delivery and write under each steps the Lead Time (LT) and Value Added Time (VA). The Lead Time is the elapsed time needed to arrive from a stage to another and the Value Added Time is the amount of time really spent on that step where value has been added (the real work)

When working with huge companies where there are a lot of processes and departments, the exercise might take some time to accomplish as you’d need to meet people from all the different department involved in order to collect all the data. For us it was quite easier as it took us only one and a half hour to end-up with this:

vsmBlog(Pink post-it notes represent process stages, LT and VA are written under each)

First thing to do is to select a recent representative project (the kind of project your company is used to do in terms of size, people involved …) and obviously one that has been released to the customer! Invite enough people to be able to determine all the steps and find out corresponding LT and VA. We were only 3 to perform the Value Stream Mapping (a Business Analyst, the Head of Development and myself). As soon as all the steps have been found out, we used time tracking and reporting tools to get the exact amount of time spent on each steps (the VA) and when exactly those started. Some of the steps might be done in parallel and iteratively, that’s why some sticky notes are under other ones (in that case the corresponding VA is the sum of the whole column).

As soon as you have written down everything, just sum up all the VA’s and LT’s (some conversion might be needed here as some figures might be in days and other in weeks or months) and divide the total VA by the total LT to find out the Value Stream efficiency rate. The lower it is, the bigger is the chance to easily find some process improvement ideas!

The very interesting part starts at the end of the exercise! Well, you know, everyone might have in mind where usually things are stuck and where you might need some improvement to speed the value flow. But having the Value Stream in front of you clearly helps to focus.

The Value Stream is the perfect medium to start collaborating. Invite a couple of key people to join (from development and business side) and talk together in order to find out what could be improved in order to speed up the flow of value delivered and avoid wasting precious time. List out all the ideas and try them! Redo the exercise later on and check if the efficiency rate increased!

You will get a better understanding between all the stakeholders of how work moves through the company. People from different departments and having different point of views join together and collaborate to improve the whole company’s efficiency.

Mission accomplished!