How I Work

Metrics and Three Traps

Hey folks, let’s talk about three traps we fall into with metrics. (Before we begin, let me remind you, this is just comfort food: Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay kind. Stay angry. Black lives matter.) In twenty years of coaching software development teams, I’ve seen maybe a hundred or more orgs try to figure out how to measure their process, and the majority of them have fallen into some mix of three traps: 1) the more trap, 2) the objectivity …

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The Right Step

Let’s talk about steps, a topic that’s relevant to my geekery interests, and maybe even a little relevant to the world outside of geekery today. (I feel weird writing right now. I am going to do it anyway, primarily because, like most long-term sufferers from illness, I live in mortal fear of relapse, and part of my remission seems based on finding my topic & voice in writing.) Don’t think that, by writing on geekery right now, that I’m trying …

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More on Small Steps

Folks, I’ve been pretty quiet about geekery lately. I wrote about using my geekery content as a small dose of comfort food. I’m going to offer a little more, today. We can geek out a little, for relief, because you gotta care for yourself to care for others. But this is not any kind of "return to normal". We don’t want to return to normal, we want to press forward. Stay safe, stay strong, stay kind, stay angry. Black lives …

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Pull & Swarm

Sooooooo. I’m gonna write a little bit about geekery. But I do want to frame it for you a little. Geekery is not very important right now. My country is in the throes of facing down a violent uprising by uniformed militia, spurred on by parts of the government. So, geekery, no. Not important. But, to me, and to many of my followers, thinking and talking about geekery is a kind of comfort food. Comfort doesn’t eliminate problems. But the …

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Microtest TDD: Economics

The economic aspects of microtest TDD are inextricably tied to the operational aspects of it. If we concentrate only on the artifacts involved, we will lose the picture and misunderstand the value proposition. As a professional geek, the heart of my job is changing rigidly structured imperative text in collaboration with other humans, in order to meet a variety of locally or temporally aligned goals. That’s fancy talk for "I change code, in community, for money." The central event is …

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Microtest TDD: More Definition

What’s a microtest, anyway? I write a ton of tests as I’m building code, and the majority of these are a particular kind or style of test, the microtest kind. Let’s talk about what I mean by that, today, then we’ll talk later about how that turns out to help me so much. A microtest is a small, fast, precise, easy-to-invoke/read/write/debug chunk of code that exercises a single particular path through another chunk of code containing the branching logic from …

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Microtest TDD: The Big Picture

I think of my style of coding as "microtest TDD". That can be misleading for folks, so let’s take a walk over a few of the ideas, implicit and explicit, that make up the approach. First things first, bear the money premise in mind in all that follows, to wit: "I’m in this for the money." In the software trade, we make money by shipping more value faster. This is why I adopt these practices, because when I do them, …

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An Intro to Spikes

I use spikes, periods of code-changing activity that end with no pushes, all the time, at small scale and large, as a way to develop my path. It’s a vital technique, and it’s often underplayed, so let’s spend some time with it. What’s are spikes? A spike is a stretch of time I spend mucking about in code, and that stretch of time has one rule: "Do anything you want, because you can’t keep it." We originally used the term …

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The Cost of Changing Microtests

The “How I Work (Test-Driving Mix)” drew some questions and comment. How I Work (Test-Driving Mix) Here’s one: a respondent says, “If I write a lot of small tests and I change how a feature works, I have to change or throw out all those microtests, which is a lot of work.” (The respondent proposed an answer for this problem, and it’s not a bad one, but raises some other questions we might get to later.) The one-liner response: “For …

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