Software Quality Insights


August 11, 2011  1:11 PM

ThoughtWorks announcements at Agile 2011

Yvette Francino Yvette Francino Profile: Yvette Francino

Representatives from ThoughtWorks and ThoughtWorks Studio were available today at the Agile 2011 conference to talk about their latest offerings. In this set of videos you’ll hear from Continuous Delivery author Jez Humble and other leaders about their recent announcements with their product and service offerings.
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August 10, 2011  6:52 PM

Embedded systems development gets attention at Agile 2011

Yvette Francino Yvette Francino Profile: Yvette Francino

One Agile trend I’ve noticed is that its practices and techniques are now being accepted in more in areas that traditionally did not use the methodology, such as embedded systems. As evidence of that, for the first time this year, there is an “Agile for Embedded Systems Development” track at the Agile 2011 conference.

Yesterday, I attended John Maxwell’s session about Embedded Testing Techniques. We have reactions from two industry leaders and experts in the area of embedded systems test, James Grenning and Nancy Van Schooenderwoert:

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August 10, 2011  6:51 PM

Behavior driven development (BDD) with Liz Keogh

Yvette Francino Yvette Francino Profile: Yvette Francino

At the Agile Alliance 2011 conference in Salt Lake City, there are 268 sessions, so choosing which ones to attend has been a challenge. Behavior driven development (or BDD) is an area that I hadn’t really explored in the past and wanted to find out more about. What exactly is this technique all about? Unlike test driven development (TDD), BDD is not about coding or testing, but more about having conversations with stakeholders in such a way that it will uncover and clarify requirements.

In this short video clip, BDD expert and trainer Liz Keogh gives a short overview of the BDD tutorial she delivered:


August 9, 2011  9:04 PM

Agile 2011 keynote: Positive emotions will lead to increased awareness

Yvette Francino Yvette Francino Profile: Yvette Francino

Tuesday morning’s Agile 2011 keynote, “Why Care about Positive Emotions?” by Positivity author Barbara Fredrickson taught us how positive psychology has proven that positive emotions help us become more aware and open. Fredrickson used the sun opening a water lily as a metaphor, saying that scientists have shown that positivity “open us up.” After “injecting positive emotions” into people in a lab environment, by showing them positive photos, giving a surprise gift or playing pleasant music, scientists have been able to study the brain and found indications that these people experience an increased awareness of their surroundings.

This is just one of the many learnings of positive psychology, a movement that became popular ten years ago, at the same time as the Agile manifesto. Positive emotions allow people to experience “more possibilities, more creativity, more resilience, better performance, and make better decisions,” said Fredrickson.

Besides becoming a popular movement in the same time frame, Fredrickson noted other parallels between positive psychology and the Agile Manifesto. Being adaptive and agile is common to both. Both have nailed some truths of human nature, namely that we must have trust and faith in individuals and teams.

Audience members were inspired. “Coaching and positivity go hand in hand,” commented an Agile coach, noting that by using positive behavior in “coaching moments,” will ultimately lead to increased productivity.

In the video below, you’ll hear some reactions from audience members who thought this message is will help leadership and management the importance of a positive environment in the workplace.

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August 9, 2011  2:19 PM

Decision making and Agile self-directed teams

Yvette Francino Yvette Francino Profile: Yvette Francino

Agile 2011 is starting off with a bang here in Salt Lake City. With 16 different tracks and so many high-profile speakers, it’s tough to make a decision about which sessions to attend. Perhaps it was fitting that the first session I attended was about decision-making!

“Managers vs. Agile Teams: Who Makes the Decisions?,” a session led by Meghann Drury and Ken Power began with describing the decision-making process. We each make decisions constantly – what to wear, who to speak to, and, again, which sessions to attend when we’re at a conference. But in this interactive workshop, we explored decisions made in a business context and how those decisions are influenced.

The workshop began by teams talking about decisions that are made at different levels, such as at the organizational level, at the business unit level, at the release level, at the sprint level and so on. We talked about who influences decisions at these different levels. Which decisions are strategic vs. tactical? When should management be involved in Agile environments with self-directed teams? Should every team member have equal weight in decisions about the sprint?

These questions sparked interesting debate and helped the group think through the decision-making process and understand at a deeper level some of the complexities involved and how to get the appropriate people involved when making business decisions.

Update: This morning it was announced that the winner for Best Research Paper was
“Decision Making in Agile Developoment: A Focus Group Study of Decisions & Obstacles” by Meghann Drury, Kieran Conboy and Ken Power.

In this video clip, participant Roshen Joseph describes some of what she learned in the session:
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August 8, 2011  8:14 PM

Tasktop presents new ALM synchronization tool

Yvette Francino Melanie Webb Profile: Melanie Webb

Monday Tasktop announced the release of the first real-time ALM synchronization tool, Tasktop Sync, which enables instant communication for collaboration between testers and developers, as well as real-time updates via server-to-server synchronization. Different stakeholders can view the progress of projects from their respective home environments simultaneously. It also offers visibility into all artifact types.

 

According to Mik Kersten, CEO of Tasktop Technologies, large organizations transitioning to Agile development struggle with communication and traceability.  “With application complexity continually rising, it is no longer feasible to effectively collaborate and report over disconnected chains of email,” he says . Tasktop Sync is unique in that it facilitates access to pertinent information for all disparate team members; this makes it ideal for enterprises who wish to maximize the benefits of Agile.

 

Demonstrations on how to use Tasktop Sync are being given at the Agile2011 conference this week.

 

See the video below for information from Neelan Choksi, President and COO of TaskTop:

 

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August 5, 2011  5:35 PM

Performance test tool announcements

Yvette Francino Yvette Francino Profile: Yvette Francino

This month, SSQ has been focusing on application performance management (APM) with a variety of articles and tips on the topic. But as performance test trainer and coach Scott Barber says, “Performance testing just ain’t easy.”

Barber is an early adopter and supporter of SOASTA’s new CloudTest Lite product, allowing engineers to code and debug their performance tests using the lightweight, free version of their CloudTest product.

Two other recent announcements in the performance test tool arena are from vendors Aternity and Reflective Solutions (StressTester).

On May 24, Aternity announced a major upgrade to its Frontline Performance Intelligence Platform, a tool which provides a view of client-side APM and monitoring from the desktop vantage point. Aternity is known for “end user experience management” in the health care IT industry and helps provide and improve “meaningful use” of EHR (Employee Health Record) applications, allowing health care providers qualification for ARRA benefits. Will Weider, Chief Information Officer (CIO) of Ministry Health, explained:

“Gaining visibility into our end user’s EHR experience is key to achieving solid clinician adoption. That is why we chose Aternity. When we do have end user issues, we can demonstrate progress and not be hindered by a user perception that often trails reality, ”

Reflective Solution’s StressTester, a tool popular in Europe, is touted as a full-function performance test tool which does not require scripting. I asked independent performance test consultant Alex Smith how this is possible. Smith answered:

“Indeed, like all tools it simulates virtual users to generate load. In a more traditional test tool, the script tells the tool which request to make next and contains the logic to make the simulated transactions realistic, for example handling session variables, parameterising the data sent to the application being tested, checking the responses from the application are correct, varying the route through the transaction (often as a reaction to a previous application response), etc. StressTester allows all of this, and everything else needed to correctly simulate real world users, to be configured through a comprehensive GUI. Instead of coding how to execute a transaction, the tester specifies what should happen and StressTester deals with the ‘how’.”

For more on APM, check out our two recent tips:

Improving software performance: Mobile, cloud computing demand APM

Managing application performance in an Agile environment


July 28, 2011  6:45 PM

Agile Alliance conference 2011: Using Agile outside of IT

Yvette Francino Melanie Webb Profile: Melanie Webb

At the Atlanta Scrum Users Group meeting, Agile Alliance 2011 speaker Leeann Berner gave a preview of her conference presentation. As an Agile Marketer with VersionOne, Inc., Leeann is interested in how Agile concepts can be applied to areas outside of software development. Her conference presentation, titled “Beyond Software: Adopting Agile Outside of Development,” will examine how Agile practices can be applied to the marketing world in particular.

She will talk about the characteristics to look for in team members who will make Agile practices work, as well as those characteristics that aren’t so helpful. Given the collaborative nature of Agile, people who are flexible, who like to work with others and who have varied skillsets, for example, are often better suited to this type of team. Often team members need to work closely together as in pair programming. Her presentation will also discuss Agile terminology and how to redefine it in sectors outside of development, how to establish guidelines and how to get started with Agile methods.

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July 28, 2011  5:21 PM

Preview of Agile2011: Agile project management and enterprise Agile

Yvette Francino Melanie Webb Profile: Melanie Webb

The Atlanta Scrum Users Group met on July 27 to discuss the Agile Alliance 2011 conference, as some group members will be presenting at this year’s conference. Agile coach Mike Cottmeyer of LeadingAgile LLC offered some highlights on a presentation he will be doing for introductory track attendees titled “Introduction to Agile Planning and Project Management.”

One question he will address is, “Where does project management fit in a self-organizing team?” Project managers may feel that their role is at odds with the Agile process, but Mike has advice on how to redefine team members’ roles so that organizations can take advantage of Agile values and principles. He says, “Management offers guidance and a container within which the team operates,” and he believes Agile concepts can be adapted to nearly any type of project.

The presentation will offer a thorough examination of Agile principles and goals, and the roles of various team members, as well as a comprehensive explanation of story mapping with a breakdown of epics, features and user stories.

In addition, Mike Cottmeyer and Dennis Stevens, an Agile coach with Synaptus, will be co-presenting on “Exploring Enterprise Agile Transformation Strategies.” This presentation digs deeper into the difference between Agile adoption and full Agile transformation. Mike said that “the goal is never to adopt Agile,” as leaders care about achieving tangible goals. They will demonstrate how Agile contributes to meeting organizational goals and will look at specific case studies to show practical application of Agile concepts.


July 21, 2011  6:33 PM

Application performance management in the cloud

Yvette Francino Yvette Francino Profile: Yvette Francino

“Performance testing just ain’t easy,” says well-known performance test expert Scott Barber. But as he says in our interview regarding the CloudTest Lite announcement, doing it in the cloud offers some huge benefits. SOASTA has now allowed for a free performance test tool with an upgrade once you’ve gotten your tests fine-tuned. “The easy is easy, the hard is available, and the price tags fit with what you’re trying to do,” says Barber.

Performance testing and monitoring in the cloud has becoming a popular choice for organizations, because it means they no longer have to invest in very expensive tools and resources which may be sitting on the shelf for most of the year. However, when outsourcing your APM out to a cloud vendor, there are considerations you may need to take into account.

In The cloud: APM ownership challenges, Kay Diller gives helpful tips if you’re transitioning your APM to a cloud vendor. She follows that up with an informative tip on creating a Service Level Agreement with your APM cloud vendor in How to create a strong cloud SLA for APM.

This month SSQ’s focus is on APM. Stay tuned as we bring you more in the next week from experts who will look at how performance testing is changing with Agile development and development on mobile devices.


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