The guys talk to David Starr about how people, practices and tools factor into software development. Can developer tooling be part of the solution rather than part of the problem? What’s the state of Scrum? How does Nascar fit in?

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Herding Code 150 – David Starr on the People, Practices, and Tools of Development

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Show Notes:

  • From Nascar to Scrum.org to Microsoft
    • K Scott outs David as a developer of the original NASCAR site.
    • David’s been working with Scrum.org but just took a job at Microsoft in the Visual Studio team as a senior PM based on his interest in executable specifications.
    • K Scott asks David about his thoughts based on working with Scrum.org. David sees Scrum as nearly ubiquitous, but most just use it as a way to manage daily checklists rather than effect broader change.
  • SubSpec and executable specifications
    • K Scott asks David about his recent post on SubSpec and how it compares to SpecFlow.
  • Software code of ethics
    • K Scott asks David about his post thinking about a professional code of ethics for software development.
    • David thinks it would be nice if we had a profession.
    • Jon asks if this kind of approach is even relevant to a lot of most software developers.
    • Scott K mentions a discussion on the show a few years ago about board certification but wonders who would run it.
    • David says that any certification offered by a tool vendor or methodology proponent is worthless.
    • Scott K asks if there’s any overarching certifiable skills that bridge Ruby, Scala, Java, .NET, architecture, development, etc. David says that in other trades it’s unions that push things, but doesn’t want that in the software world.
    • Jon says that he sees so much disagreement on values between languages and methodologies that he wonders if our profession could agree on anything at all.
    • Scott K asks if software really is a craft, as he doesn’t  see beauty in code. David says he doesn’t see code as words but as shapes. Scott K, David and Jon discuss where the beauty really is – perhaps not the code, but the result.
  • Jon asks how these discussions and values tie into Visual Studio tooling.
    • David says that tooling is a great way to take the kinds of things bleeding edge developers are excited about and turn them into things that are accepted and used by the broader community – as long as the hierarchy of people over process and process over tools is respected, it’s a great idea to make better tools.
    • Scott K asks what he sees are the most important things to fix in the tooling. David says he’d like to see development teams modeled as teams rather than differing roles. He’d like to improve the experience for the “specializing generalist.”
    • David says that he sees the tools making the rules in the real world, and if the tools are counter to our value systems we should change that.
    • Scott K says people might just be fooling lights to green and David says that’s a fireable offence. Jon asks if it’s possible to automate that by integrating TFS with Microsoft CRM.
  • Jeff Schumacher asks if he still has the awesome fire shoes.
  • The Code Junkie asks why someone should pick TFS over the other options when doing agile / scrum.
  • Brian Lagunas asks  what are the downsides of TDD.
  • There is a frightening discussion of a theoretical XamlSpec testing framework.
  • Scrum effectiveness
    • Paul Stack whether scrum has become a make believe methodology companies use to pretend they’re agile.
    • David says methodologies are always abused. He likes to tell people to try scrum by the book for a few months before making changes or compromises. Jon says every company wants to believe they’re different, and that’s rarely something to cling to.
    • Scott K says he sees people focusing on tooling and this leads to “scrumbut” – the practice of doing scrum, but… David says he really tries to avoid that term – scrum is a tool.
    • Kevin says he sees Scrum as a project management methodology as opposed to XP which also focuses on the engineering side. David says that you can’t be successful separating Scrum from good technical practices.
  • David talks about his last user group presentation before moving, says he’s not going to be travelling as much in the near future, and conversation drifts back to XamlSpec as the most useful result of this discussion.

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