Saturday, November 20, 2010

7th Italian Agile Day: a review

Yesterday it was held in Genova the 7th edition of the Italian Agile Day, which is so far the best I've ever attended, so the first thing I'd like to do is thank everyone for being there.

As always, I studied the program for about a week before I made up my mind on which sessions I would follow. As always, I didn't follow the plan. Hey, inspect and adapt, right?

After the usual introduction by Marco Abis, who with many others made all this possible, Paolo Perrotta gave the keynote speech, which was very interesting as it revealed a totally unexpected piece of information: software projects have problems, and writing software is difficult. Strange how I never realized that in all these years :-)

Paolo also talked about the waterfall method, which - curiosly enough - was not so "waterfallish" in the intentions of its author; all the problems originated from the (in)famous picture of phases, which originally referred to the phases of a single iteration. Moreover, there was also a clear note that stated that this model could not possibily work. Somehow this detail was lost.

Anyway, great speech, and all my compliments to Paolo that keeps improving his skills as a speaker.

Then I went for "Note to managers: IT is different, get over it" by Andrea Provaglio, which was very interesting and gave me many starting points for further studies. I was a little flustered when, toward the end of the speech, he said that all changes start from the management, which corollary is more or less that you cannot start anything from the ground up. I revived a little when in a private conversation he was so kind to tell me that all you have to do is persuade the management that a change is due. Sounds easy, but it is not. That's why you have to persuade the management that a change is due by showing them why they should be interested in that change, in such a way that they can understand what you're talking about because you use their language, and what would their advantages be. At this point I was quite happy to see that all the time I spend reading Neurolinguistic Programming manuals is not wasted, as Andrea suggested just what all the manuals do... there must be a reason if everybody agrees on that!

I didn't change the room for next talk by Fabio Armani, "Scrumban, a methodology fusion". Unluckily what should have been a nice background music became too loud to be kept so he had to turn it off. Another annoyance was the projector (or maybe the computer) that kept running out of sync. Putting aside technical problems - wich are always lurking when you have a public, no matter how many times everything went right just before the showtime - Fabio explained how he trains his teams and how they perform. Man, I want to work like that!

In the afternoon, after a very long queue for lunch, the first session was "The secret art of Agile Javascripting" by Luca Grulla. I think that if I had to manage a project with more 50% of the codebase written in Javascript I could just as well get mad. I mean, madder than I already am, of course. But, again, that is because I don't know the language as well as I'd like to (and, alas, as well as I should). Anyway, I'll try to follow his advice: separate what must be separated. And, yes, the DOM is an integration point as well.

Next, I ran to follow Alberto Brandolini for "Due uomini e una lavagna", which was absolutely different from what I was expecting, yet it was another great presentation, from which you could get all his passion and sound expertise. This was the occasion to meet him in the flesh after we exchanged a bunch of posts and comments: I knew he was a prolific writer, but I didn't know he had such a high count of words per second :-)

I was quite undecided for the last session (just like for the others), then I went for "TDD per le viste", a "pomodoroed" session by Matteo Vaccari and Carlo Bottiglieri. I already knew what to expect by Matteo, having seen a slightly modified version of his slides, but Carlo's part of the presentation was quite shocking. The reason of this lies in his (paraphrased) sentence "I was not told that TDD was just for the domain, so I started applying it for everything. TDD is a support for taking informed decisions, and it must be used as such". Sounds extreme, but probably it is not, we only have to get used to it.

And, just like that... it's gone!

The conference was really rich in contents, fast paced, and very well organized. Soon the recordings of all the sessions should be available online here. Also the funding went very well, with more than €5.500 donated by the community for the community (and while donating I also I brought home a wonderful shirt with a "will refactor for food" writing!).

What else... looking forward to the 2011 edition!

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