I’ve been home from Agile now 8 days so it is high time I posted a summary. First, let’s try this in chronological order.
- A conversation with Neal Ford
- Where Does Developer Testing End and Tester Testing Begin? – The crossword exercise was outstanding, the Lean stuff in the middle I could have done without.
- Giving and Receiving Effective Feedback
- 10 Temptations of an Agile Coach (new or experienced)
- Icebergs – the idea that something can appear and is big and obvious, like Agile was even 5 years ago, and then parts can break off and melt and become just part of the ocean as if it was always there (such as Continuous Integration)
- The Swamp Game
Here is my problem with the keynote. Or keynotes in general. They should either be controversial / thought-provoking or just mighty good stories (“I was an Apollo astronaut” is the definition of a good story). I didn’t think this was either. Game theory, Shu Ha Ri and Lean are well established talking points in the Agile community. Was I challenged by the content? No. Was I inspired by the content? Not really. Was I amazed at how many people seemed in rapture taking this all in as if it was brand new? Yes.
- Agile Hats Art Show – part one
- Agile Hats Art Show – part two
- History of a Large Test Automation Project Using Selenium
- Esther and Dianaâ€™s Excellent Retrospective Adventures
- Why Is Testing So Slow? – I sat in on 2/3 of Michael’s session but ducked out as I had already seen the content before. I did enjoy the Family Feud style of list revealing.
- How to sell a traditional client on an Agile project plan
- Eight Guiding Values – This was for me, the showcase session of the week. THIS (or Brian’s ARxTA talk) should have been the keynote (see mini-rant above). There was a camera in there, so I’m hopeful that InfoQ will have it up shortly.
- Selenium Open Jam – I hosted an Open Jam session Friday morning
- Lunch with Mark Levison (personal, business) – Mark is an Agile Coach out of Ottawa and helped me sort out a bunch of stuff I’m dealing with at work (or trying to start to stir up so I we can deal with them). I don’t think I’m in a role to pull them off, but I thought highly enough of the conversation to pass his contact into to my boss.
And now for things that don’t really fit into any chronological bucket.
First, why do people pay a lot of money to come to a conference if they are going to get trashed in the bar or vendor parties and miss all the morning sessions? A lunch every day I would hear ‘Wow, didn’t expect to see you functioning’ or something similar. (I could just be getting old; get off my lawn etc..)
Next, I noticed three themes being mentioned repeatedly:
- Lean (and to a lesser extent, Kanban) – I have to admit, I am more with Chris on this. I don’t get the obsession with it. But then again, I didn’t get Agile either at one point (coming from traditional big-bank testing) so I might yet come around. I suspect there can be borrowings (like release-when-done of kanban but not the craziness of Continuous Deployment to Production that often comes with it), but the love affair of Lean in general is reaching fever pitch.
- Bridging the Gap – Whether it is Traditional to Agile, Tester to Developer, Team to Management, I heard ‘we need to bridge the gap’ a couple times each day.
- ATDD – In the testing sessions, ATDD and Cucumber received much love and have had the most affect on things I am involved in. I want to try to use Cucumber (or Robot) to test (fine, check) our service client Ruby gems which would act as not only the regression security blanket but documentation too.
One thing that confused me about the conference in general was who the audience was. The answer I think was ‘anyone’ which was both a strength and a weakness. One of my big goals for the week was meeting people I had only met online and that was achieved (the last person on the list was tracked down Thursday night). But the events I have been to that seemed to have had the best experience at learning-wise have been smaller, more focused ones. The Agile community as a whole seems to also bought into the idea with smaller, more targeted get-togethers. (Agile Roots comes to mind as one that seems to be like that).
And finally, the host city of Chicago. What a gorgeous downtown. But wholly cow is it expensive. I didn’t stay at the conference hotel and saved more that $100 a night, but it still cost a fair bit for staying a week. Even the conference itself was expensive. I paid for my hotel and airfare out of pocket but can’t see a way I would have gone if I had to pay for admission as well (speakers get it waived). I think that might have contributed to the drunkards and the audience confusion — only people whose company paid for them tended to go there. And often, those people are not there to learn (as compared to those who shell out themselves) vs. there for a vacation away.
Will I be at Agile 2010? It is in Nashville which is Horse Country so my wife might be able to come down and hold a workshop while I’m at the conference, but it will likely come down to money. If I’m speaking again I could see myself going, but that is likely the only way. Don’t get me wrong, it was a valuable week and I think everyone circling in even the peripheries of Agile should go at least once, but I think the real value going forward is in smaller conferences rather than one big annual blowout.