Pickles Pro Blog .NET BDD from the trenches

Impressions from Agile Tour Vienna 2016

On Saturday 12 November, I presented a talk at the Agile Tour Vienna 2016 conference, and attended several sessions. Here’s my rundown of it.

Arriving

When I arrived, I bumped into several colleagues from previous jobs, with brought up a lot of happy memories. Gojko Adzic walked up to me and we chatted for a few minutes.

Hitchhikers Session Guide

By Christian Hassa and Ralph Miarka Christian and Ralph spoke some introductory words, and then proceeded to make a short mention of all talks of the conference. I thought this was a great way of giving each speaker a bit of spotlight (at one remove), and helping attendees to make an informed decision on which talks to attend.

Welcome @ Agile Tour Vienna 2016

By the conference’s host Some words about FH Technikum Wien who provided the location of the conference, and other co-organizers and sponsors like Tech Talk and bwin (I remember those because I used to work for them ;-) ).

Keynote 1: Awesome Superproblems

By Luke Hohmann Luke Hohmann talked about Innovation Games: games that are designed for a primary purpose other than fun. They are ways of making people discuss, engage and contribute about requirements, priorities, projects, … Luke told us that we are all Game Designers. As an example he mentioned Monopolybut: lots of people use the mod that if you land on Free Parking, you receive all the money that the bank collects as fines and fees. In the real rules, nothing happens when you land there. He then made us stand up, turn to a neighbour, assume a superhero pose (hands on hips, chest out) and say “hello, I’m Dirk, and I’m a Game Designer”.

Breakout Session 1: Does Agile mean we have less time for Testing?

By Alex Schwartz Alex asked the audience what they feel is the answer to the question. About half the people said “yes”, the other half (including I) said “no”. Alex talked a lot about the timing of testing, and the types of testing you can do. At the end of his talk, he gave his answer to the question: if you test at the end of the iteration, then yes, you have less time for testing. If you test during the iteration, then no, you have more time for testing.

Breakout Session 2: A voyage through BDD in the financial sector

By myself The talk went down well, and the room was well-filled. I felt honoured that David Evans, one of the keynote speakers, chose to attend my session. He enjoyed my session, and gave a splendid 140 character summary of my main message:

Tweet by David Evans

Several other people had complementary things to say as well, especially that they enjoyed the openness with which I talked not only about what we got right but also about what we got wrong during my introduction of BDD at AIM Software.

Breakout Session 3: Seeding a Tree in a Gherkin

By Paul Rohorzka Paul talked about how to set the stage for a scenario in Gherkin. Non-trivial scenarios need a lot of data to get started, even if you are covering only a small aspect of functionality. I liked the way how he showed several iterations of expressing a tree of departments in a gherkin scenarios. It challenges some of my settled ways of setting up data.

Keynote 2: Tribes, Squads, Chapters, & Guilds: Agile at Scale at Spotify

By Joakim Sundén Joakim talked about “the Spotify Model”, how Spotify practices agile software development while having more than 2000 employees. His main message (for me) was “don’t simply copy the Spotify Model, the white paper that introduced it was just a snapshot in time - and your situation will be different”. This was exemplified in this quote from an asian car manufacturer: “Stop trying to borrow wisdom and think for yourself. Face your difficulties and think and think and think, and solve your problems yourself.”

Breakout Session 4: Impact Mapping with Innovation Games (TM)

By Gojko Adzic and Christian Hassa Gojko and Christian presented two Innovation Games designed to help when doing impact mapping. One of the games aims to solve to unchanging actors problem, where people cannot come up with more than a small numbers of usually ill-differenced actors. The other game is designed to solve the problem of unchanging behaviours, where people come up only with behaviours (“the customer buys the book”) instead of changes in the behaviour (“the customer buys the book faster”, “the customer buys books twice as often”). Their session was marred by bad timekeeping: they spent a lot of time explaining impact mapping, and had only 6 minutes left for the actual Innovation Games. Those two games deserved more explanation time.

Breakout Session 5: 5 Years of Agile Transition: An Agile Journey

By Maximillian Hantsch-Köller An overview of what the speaker did to transition Frequentis from classical waterfall software development to Agile or at least smaller-iteration-based software development. Nothing really new there, no clever insights. I had expected more from this session, because over the last couple of years I’ve collected my fair share of experience working with organisations that are very much settled in the waterfall world.

Keynote 3: The Pillars of Agile Testing

By David Evans A humorous talk about the pillars of agile testing, about the results that are supported by these pillars, and about the foundation that supports those pillars in turn. The metaphor was modelled after a classical Greek temple, and considerable time was spent on the correct names for the temple and the parts of the architecture. I enjoyed the trip down memory lane towards my classical education, but I would have preferred a bit less humour at the expense of ancient Greek jokes and a bit more content.

Conclusion

I’m happy I took part in this conference, even at the expense of “losing a day off” because the conference was on a Saturday. It was great to reconnect with people, to learn a couple of new things from other people’s presentations. I also had a blast holding my own presentation. I’m looking forward to next year’s edition!

This December I’m teaching the official “Developing with SpecFlow” course in Vienna (in German). Visit the course’s page for more details and sign up quickly at booking@picklespro.com to profit from the xmas special!

Dirk Rombauts

Dirk Rombauts is a Software Developer with more than 10 years of experience working in .NET. He has been working with Behaviour Driven Development for several years now and thinks it is the best thing to happen to software development since the invention of coffee.

He is the maintainer of Pickles, the open source Living Documentation generator and is in the process of setting up Pickles Pro, a company that aims to make you self-sufficient in all matters BDD.