Saturday, June 03, 2006

AgileScotland Lunch Time sessions ... ?

Hi again everyone,
I don't know about you lot, but after 6pm my thoughts normally turn to dinner, my couch, a good book, a little telly, and maybe - if I've been good - a nice cup of tea.  I guess I must have reached a certain age ... But then once every month AgileScotland meets for an evening session where there is no couch, no book, no telly and no cup of tea, plus dinner is is a
Morrison's cheese and ham sandwhich.  Don't get me wrong, I almost always enjoy the sessions, but if I wasn't organising the meetings then I'd probably not turn up for so many. 
I wonder how many people aren't coming along to the AgileScotland meetings because they're in the evenings?
What I am gettting to, slowly, is that I am considering running the occassional AgileScotland lunch time meeting in addition to the monthly meetings.  
My early thoughts are that we'd meet up in an Edinburgh and Glasgow restaurant or (if we can find one) a free or cheap meeting room to have a bite to eat, a chat, and a quick presentation or discussion.  I'd love to run a "bring your manager" session and run through a quick demo of the TDD in Excel session that Peter is giving later this month.  Maybe we'd see a few new faces and spread the "good" word a little futher.
I'd love to hear your thoughts and suggestions.
Please click REPLY and tell me if you think this is a good idea and if you'd like to attend (with no commitment).
Clarke Ching

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: agile scotland <>
Date: Jun 1, 2006 1:55 PM
Subject: AgileScotland: June 19th - Selling Test Driven Development to Managers ... and the unconverted

Hi everyone,
Next meeting:  Selling Test Driven Development to Managers, with Peter Gordon, 7:30pm on June 19th, Gordon, VISION Consulting offices*, Edinburgh
I've just returned from a week in France, where I had to drive on the right-hand side of the road for the first time in my life. 
Despite having driven almost every day since I got my licence, aged 15, the first 3 days of the trip were very, very scary.  On the face of it, the change wasn't that great - sure the signs being written in some foreign language and the cars were on the wrong side of the road, but the road rules were more or less the same, the car was familiar, and I was used the same basic skills I'd learned over 20 years ago.  But, it was very scary.  I kept running over curbs  I drove on the left hand side a couple of times too, which made the trip all the more exciting.   I maintained a constant dialog of "I'm driving on the right hand side of the road", "I'm turning left and I need to turn into the right lane" and so on ... It didn't help that my wife/navigator can't tell the difference between left and right.
Thankfully, by the 4th day, things had settled down and the drive back to the airport was a breeze.
Which brings me to Test Driven Development - TDD
On the face of it, there's not that much different between TDD and ordinary programming - you use the same languages and IDEs, you still write new code, you still modify existing code, and you still test the code.  The only obvious difference is that in TDD you write your tests before you write your code.  Simple!  But it's not, that simple.  TDD is massive change in technique and habit.  Many say it's a massive improvement - but it's hard to explain why it's such a huge improvement without peoples eyes glazing over.
How do you sell TDD to your bosses and colleagues?
Enter Microsoft Excel!
AgileScotlander, Peter Gordon** will introduce TDD using Microsoft Excel and VBA.  In an interactive 60 - 90 minute session Peter will walk through a simple TDD session using Excel - a tool that all managers understand and have on their desktops. 
I first used the exercise in an university lecture and it went down so well that I've written up the example and it has now been used around the world.  Here' are a few quotes I've received about the exercise:
  • As a demo for managers I think that it really stood up. It got the point across without losing them. I think some of the programming was beyond [my manager] but the frequent switches back to the tests kept him interested and he could see the power when I made a mistake, got instant feedback, fix it and rant the tests again.

  • I like that you've taken the TDD and separated it from heavy code. Anyone who has fooled around with Excel can understand your paper. Well done.