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Showing posts from April, 2010

Measuring Performance for Teams

If you've ever been in an organization that had performance reviews, you may have found yourself wondering whether the measurement process used to evaluate your (and your team's) performance made sense, and if there was a better way. Even if you have goals that can be evaluated quantitatively, rather than some metric that feels arbitrary, you may feel that your personal goals may run counter to the success of the your team. For example, you may wonder whether it makes sense to help your colleague on her high priority project and risk missing a deadline for your (lower) priority one. Sometimes the problems with measurement systems are because people just don't measure well. In other cases, it's because it's impossible to measure all of the things that matter.

Rob Austin's book Measuring and Managing Performance in Organizations gives you a model to understand why measurement systems become dysfunctional, and an approach to avoid dysfunction when you are measurin…

Things about Release Management Every Programmer Should Know

As I mentioned earlier I was privileged to contribute to the book 97 Things Every Programmer Should Know: Collective Wisdom from the Experts. In addition to the contributions about coding and design, I was pleasantly surprised to see the number of items that relate to release management. While I've long been interested in how to build architectures and processes that make deploying and releasing software easy, I sometimes get the impression that these items were often though of necessary evils that could be done at the end, often by the someone who isn't doing "more valuable work." Much like awareness of agile software development made it obvious that testing and quality assurance activities work best when they are integrated throughout the development lifecycle, agile has also made it more obvious why build and release engineering is something to work on as you go. This makes a lot of sense, as ease of release is closely tied to the physical architecture of the syst…

Planning is a Gerund

One of the things teams adopting agile struggle with is deciding how much to define a plan before you start executing. Have a plan that's too well developed and you end up risking that your team may not be responsive enough to change. Too little of a plan and you may end up changing course excessively, and have no way to measure your progress towards any sort of deliverable. 
At the core of this confusion over how much to plan is the reality that plans change, and spending too much time and energy creating a plan that ends up being wrong seems wasteful. But the lack of a plan means that you have nothing to measure progress against. One way to reconcile this is to keep in mind the following quote, attributed to Dwight Eisenhower (and a variant attributed to Churchill):Plans are nothing; Planning is everything.
If we assume that as a project progresses, that things will change, we can still benefit from talking through the options as a team. Capturing the things that we don't kno…

Book Review: Modular Java

I recently read  Craig Walls' book Modular Java: Creating Flexible Applications with Osgi and Spring (Pragmatic Programmers). This book is a very detailed tutorial that walks you through setting up an application using OSGI and Spring with the help of Maven as a build tool. If you aren't familiar with any of these technologies, this book will get you started, and quickly have you feeling like you have a basic grasp of the concepts and technologies.

You'll finish the book with a desire to learn more about the technologies, and understand the power of modular applications.  As a tutorial, this is an excellent book. This is not an general guide to how to design with OSGI.  There is some background on the frameworks, and some explanation of technologies, and also pointers to sources for more information, but this book is all about learning by building. If you pick up the book hoping to learn any details about the how and why of OSGI and Spring, two useful technologies, you mig…