Thursday, October 20, 2005

JAOO Conference: The Roots of Scrum - DVD available

Recently I presented at the JAOO conference in Denmark on the Roots of Scrum along with a Scrum Quickstart Tutorial. This was a great conference with about 900 Java and .NET developers in attendance. A DVD of my presentation will be available shortly from JAOO.

Many of the speakers were the usual suspects including two signatories of the Agile Manifesto, Martin Fowler and myself.

The attendees were high caliber developers and enthusiastic about Agile methods. Some of them were really pumped up by my talk and when they shared their experiences with me, I was inspired by them! Check out:

The Roots of Scrum: How Japanese Lean Manufacturing Changed Global Software Development Practices

JAOO has produced a DVD containing five video presentations and the associated slides:
  • Andrew Scotland: Scrum at BBC
  • Arvindra Sehmi: Architecting for High Performance, Decentralized, Agent-Oriented Applications
  • Frank Cohen: Lessons Learned While Building Scalable SOA
  • Jeff Sutherland: The Roots of Scrum: How Japanese Lean Manufacturing Changed Global Software Development Practices
  • Martin Fowler: Introduction to DSL

You had to be there to get the full experience and the DVD will provide that experience. Price is 100 EUR and you need to email before November 1.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Yahoo Aims To Be Research Powerhouse
By Wade Roush, October 12, 2005

When U.S. Web surfers are searching for information, 80 percent of them turn to one of three sites: Google, Yahoo, or Microsoft's MSN. And because the keyword-specific ads displayed alongside search results command such a premium, these three leading search companies have spent the last two years sparring relentlessly with each other, adding free services -- desktop toolbars, blogs, gigabytes of e-mail storage -- designed to turn casual users into loyal ones.

But when it comes to developing new Web technology, one of these companies has lagged behind the others. Surprisingly, it's not Microsoft, but Yahoo.

At Google, research is woven into the fabric of the company: software engineers are required to spend 20 percent of their time on far-out ideas, a policy that's given rise to a host of spin-off Google sites.

Microsoft, for its part, has funded extensive research in areas such as data mining and information retrieval, including a system that assembles information from the Web and a user's hard drive before he or she has even realized they need it.

But for Yahoo, having a research operation that helps to invent emerging information tools has never been a major priority. Indeed, until two years ago, the company didn't even have its own search engine -- it rented Google's.

But now that's changing -- and fast. In July, Yahoo hired Prabhakar Raghavan, the former chief technology officer at enterprise-search provider Verity, to lead its 40-person research division in the company's Sunnyvale, CA headquarters.

Raghavan, who is also editor-in-chief of the Journal of the Association for Computing Machinery, has proceeded to put Yahoo Research on the map by wooing top researchers, such as Andrew Tomkins, a text-analytics expert so well-regarded for his work on Web buzz-tracking at IBM's Almaden Research Center that Fortune magazine called him one of IBM's "golden geeks." More hiring announcements are imminent, too, according to Usama Fayyad, Yahoo's senior vice president and chief data officer.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Do we need specs? Linus thinks not ...

Linus Torvalds Outburst Sparks Fierce Debate: Does Open Source Software Need Specs?
"There's Two MAJOR reasons to Avoid Specs," Torvalds Wrote

The Linux Kernel Mailing List (LKML) came alive on Thursday when Linus Torvalds chose to write, in a discussion about the risks of following specs without being flexible enough to take reality into account: "A 'spec' is close to useless. I have _never_ seen a spec that was both big enough to be useful _and_ accurate." The web is currently abuzz with the merits and demerits of this point of view.

As we always try and do, let's first look at exactly what Torvalds wrote:

DateThu, 29 Sep 2005 12:57:05 -0700 (PDT)
FromLinus Torvalds

"A 'spec' is close to useless. I have _never_ seen a spec that was both big enough to be useful _and_ accurate.

And I have seen _lots_ of total crap work that was based on specs. It's _the_ single worst way to write software, because it by definition means that the software was written to match theory, not reality.

So there's two MAJOR reasons to avoid specs:

- they're dangerously wrong. Reality is different, and anybody who thinks specs matter over reality should get out of kernel programming NOW. When reality and specs clash, the spec has zero meaning. Zilch. Nada. None.

It's like real science: if you have a theory that doesn't match experiments, it doesn't matter _how_ much you like that theory. It's wrong. You can use it as an approximation, but you MUST keep in mind that it's an approximation.

- specs have an inevitably tendency to try to introduce abstractions levels and wording and documentation policies that make sense for a written spec. Trying to implement actual code off the spec leads to the code looking and working like CRAP.

The classic example of this is the OSI network model protocols. Classic spec-design, which had absolutely _zero_ relevance for the real world. We still talk about the seven layers model, because it's a convenient model for _discussion_, but that has absolutely zero to do with any real-life software engineering. In other words, it's a way to _talk_ about things, not to implement them.

And that's important. Specs are a basis for _talking_about_ things. But they are _not_ a basis for implementing software.

So please don't bother talking about specs. Real standards grow up _despite_ specs, not thanks to them.