I am an author, speaker, and loud-mouth on the design of enterprise software. I work for ThoughtWorks, a software delivery and consulting company. This site contains lots of my writing on software development, which primarily focuses on software design and agile methods. To find your way around this site, go to the intro guide.
My atom feed (RSS) announces any updates to this site, as well as various news about my activities and other things I think you may be interested in. I also make regular announcements via my twitter feed, which I copy to my facebook page.
Sat 20 Dec 2014 15:24 EST
Thu 18 Dec 2014 09:45 EST
A couple of weeks ago I did a joint talk with my colleague Molly Bartlett Dishman about the interaction of agile software development and application architecture. We talk how these two activities overlap, explaining that architecture is a vital part of a successful agile project. We then move on to passing on tips for how to ensure that the architecture work is happening.
This talk was part of ThoughtWorks’s “Rethink” event in Dallas. There are also excellent talks by Brandon Byars on how enterprises should be restructured to take advantage of agile thinking and by “Pragmatic” Dave Thomas on the dangers of “agile” being co-opted by the big-methodology crowd that it was designed to oppose. (The latter is worth it just to enjoy Dave in a suit and tie.)
Molly and I will be reprising and updating our talk for the O’Reilly Architecture conference in March next year.
Tue 16 Dec 2014 11:00 EST
Last month, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court of the United States, asking the justices to review an earlier lower court decision that allows APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) to be copyrightable. I'm one of the 77 software professionals who signed the brief, although rather intimidated by a group that includes Abelson & Sussman, Aho & Ullman, Josh Bloch, Fred Brooks, Vint Cerf, Peter Deutsch, Mitch Kapor, Alan Kay, Brian Kernighan, Barbara Liskov, Guido van Rossum, Bruce Schneier, and Ken Thompson.
Tue 09 Dec 2014 09:41 EST
Mon 08 Dec 2014 11:28 EST
I recently bought a Garmin Oregon 600 handheld satnav (GPS) and took it on a vacation, hiking in Switzerland. I find it fun to use, a worthwhile upgrade on my earlier Garmin 60 CSx. It has a bright, clear screen, good battery life, and you can easily find decent open-source topo maps to put on it.
Sun 07 Dec 2014 10:57 EST
Wed 03 Dec 2014 10:34 EST
A few months ago I bought a Sony a6000 camera because I was tired of the weight on my Canon DLSR. Here’s my informal review of the camera paired with the 16-70mm lens, which outlines why it’s now the camera I like to use most of the time.
Wed 03 Dec 2014 10:23 EST
At goto Denmark this year, I was on a panel discussing the past, present, and future of agile software development. I talked about the past, Prag Dave Thomas took a cynical look at the present, and Jez Humble, Katherine Kirk and Tatiana Badiceanu looked at where it was going.
Tue 02 Dec 2014 10:14 EST
Mon 01 Dec 2014 09:47 EST
Toby Clemson finishes his guide to techniques for testing microservices. He adds two more classes of testing: contract tests test the interface contract of a microservice, end-to-end tests verify the whole system - but are prone to many difficulties. He concludes by looking at how these various kinds of tests should be assembled into an effective test portfolio.
Mon 24 Nov 2014 10:58 EST
I’ll be speaking in Dallas on Saturday December 6th for a ThoughtWorks event We have also got Dave “Pragmatic” Thomas in, to talk about the death of agile. I’ll be speaking with my colleague, Molly Bartlett Dishman, about how architecture works in an agile environment.
Sun 23 Nov 2014 17:06 EST
For a long time I’ve been a champion of Continuous Integration which reduces integration risk by integrating early and often, an application of the principle of Frequency Reduces Difficulty. We’ve found CI to be a core technique at ThoughtWorks and use it almost all the time. At the heart of this is a style of development that minimizes long feature branches with techniques like Branch By Abstraction and Feature Toggles.
While this is useful, there was still risk present from software that works in the development environment to getting it to work in production. As a result we developed Deployment Pipelines to reduce this risk, moving closer to our aim of Continuous Delivery: building software in such a way that we confidently deploy the latest builds into production whenever there is a business need. We find this improves feedback, reduces risk, and increases the visibility of project progress.
For more information: take a look at my guide page on Continuous Delivery.
I’ve been involved in enterprise software for two decades and while we’ve seen huge technological change during that time, the relational database has been a constant figure. Previous attempts to dethrone relational databases have failed, but some people think the new rise of NoSQL databases will finally consign relational databases to history. While I think relational databases are going to an important part of the landscape for a long time, I do think that there is a big change coming in the database field.
I discovered ThoughtWorks in 2000: then a small American company whose philosphy of software development was remarkably similar to my own. Now we’ve grown to around 2500 people world-wide, but kept the values that make us special. My colleagues have built critical systems for many clients in that time, and I’ve learned many lessons from them. While doing this, we found we often didn’t have the tools we needed, so we started to build them. This led to open-source tools such as CruiseControl, Selenium, Frank, and Moco as well as commercial products.
I have many opportunities, but I’ve stayed at ThoughtWorks because of the quality of my colleagues, who include both well-known speakers and those who may not be famous names but do an excellent job of software delivery (and feed me the information to write about). We are inspired by working with each other and our unusual three-pillar philosophy that raises professional excellence and social justice to the same level as financial performance.
And we are always looking for more great people to join our curious company. Maybe I’ll see you in one of our offices some day.
As with any style of process, agile software development has bred lots of interest in metrics. The thinking goes something like this, “We need a number to measure how we’re doing. Numbers focus people and help us measure success.” Whilst well intentioned, management by numbers unintuitively leads to problematic behavior and ultimately detracts from broader project and organizational goals. Metrics inherently aren’t a bad thing; just often, inappropriately used. Pat Kua, author of The Retrospective Handbook, demonstrates these issues and offers an alternative approach that uses metrics well.