Experience Reports

We’re pleased to announce that alongside the open space, we will be having the following experience reports.

Antony Marcano, Kostas Mamalis, Jan Molak (Riverglide)

The Journey Beyond the Page Object pattern 

Many people who use Selenium/WebDriver will have employed the Page Object pattern as a way of reducing duplication and brittleness of GUI-test code.

This pattern was in use at a large financial institution, supporting tests written with Cucumber. As the test suite grew and they faced testing an ever more sophisticated web application, the limitations of the Page Object pattern began to surface–as many others may also have found. Tests became harder and harder to maintain, code duplication began to grow and, in an age of dynamic, AJAX-based, Javascript enhanced GUIs, what is a “page”?

In this session, Antony Marcano will talk about the origins of an alternative pattern he identified some years ago and support Jan Molak and Kostas Mamalis discussion of how the “Journey Pattern” was used to address the growing challenges of testing a number of web applications of a large financial institution.

Lauren Schaeffer (IBM Jazz)

Make Working From Home Work For You

Three years ago, I moved to a small town and began working from home.  I struggled with isolation, weight gain, not being able to disconnect from work, and a lack of passion for my work.  Since then, I’ve learned how to make working from home work for me.  I’m passionate about my work and am getting great reviews.  In this experience report, I’ll share my struggles as I transitioned to working from home as well as my tips and tricks for being a successful work from home employee.

Barry O’Reilly

“No more mushrooms” 

The days of developers sitting in the basement, in the dark and being fed information is over. Gemba is far from a stroll on the plant floor, a gemba represents a purposeful attempt to learn what is really going on. IDEO, for example, place their designers in the life of the customers they are aiming to build a product for.

The same principles apply to software development. We can no longer hide in dark, headphones on, removed from our customers and the environment they reside in.

I’ll share stories from lastminute.com, Justgiving, Amplify and others to show how you can build context and test solutions to find out what works, and what does not without a single line of code been written.

Sallyann Freudenberg (Travis Perkins)

An experience report on the use of the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) at Travis Perkins

Here I will present my hands-on observations and those provided in a set of informal interviews with permanent TP staff. I will present findings in the style of a retrospective with an even balance of things I would start, stop and keep.

David Putman, Vince Ryan (Travis Perkins)

“Getting the Right People on the Bus”

It is every leader’s responsibility to improve the team’s performance at every opportunity. However, even the best leaders are human: interviews and CV trawls are breeding grounds for human biases, making objective recruitment problematic at best. Additionally, how can a recruiter differentiate between those that are merely aware, or perhaps know the basic theory, of agile techniques and those that practice them through nothing else but a desire to do things right?

Brian Leach, Nik Silver (Travis Perkins) [slides]

Using XP practices on 1960s green screen technology

Travis Perkins has introduced some very modern technologies in the last few years, but half of the 120-strong software engineering team is actively developing in BASIC on its 1960s green screen technology platform. Brian and Nik show how it is possible to introduce XP practices to technology that predates the moon landings, and will discuss lessons learned. They will cover unit testing, source control, and continuous integration, and will touch briefly on future objectives.

Jonathan Whitaker (An Investment Bank)

“Scaling Agile: A Practitioners Tale”

“Synopsis: 18 months on from an agile transformation, what has happened? Exploration of what management and leadership means in an organisation moving towards an agile operating model. Told from the perspective of the people in the feature teams as it was they who drove the conversation.”

Michael Rawling, Lewis Moore (Unruly Media) [slides]

“The story of a User Story”

A story of eXtreme User eXperience but with a twist. The UX designer will tell his story but so will the Product Manager. This story will highlight this extensive collaboration over the last year developing a brand new product with a rich user experience.

Jeff Foster, Mark Wightman, Simon Cromarty (Red Gate)

“Agile Career Development in Flatland”

When you don’t have hierarchical job titles or annual performance appraisals and goal setting or personal development plans are entirely optional, how do you keep your people growing?

Red Gate software in the Flatlands of Cambridge has changed a lot in the last few years, our product lines have expanded, our tools have matured and our customer base has grown but we were worried our people were losing their “spark” – they didn’t seem quite as excited as they had been.

Many people we’d hired as genius graduates and plenty of equally smart experienced people still had the same job titles. We don’t do “junior” or “senior” and there isn’t a career ladder. They didn’t know what direction to take their careers and they didn’t see opportunities to do anything different.

The picture isn’t quite as bleak as it sounds but feedback we’d been getting had us worried.

We’ve spent the last 6 months tackling a whole bunch of challenges around developing our people in agile ways and have three short stories to share:

  • “Brave Conversations”
    We interviewed every member of development and asked 10 really direct questions most companies would be too scared to ask. Shared the results and acted on the feedback. We’ll share with you what we asked and what we learned.
  • “The Portfolio Shuffle”
    After frustrating “house of cards” style people moves during our portfolio reviews we changed the rules (and restructured the whole company). How about *asking* everyone what they could do? A lesson in doing the right thing for your people.
  • “Personal Development Doesn’t Mean Climbing the Greasy Pole”
    Historically we’d taken the view that “you own your own career progression”. We were wrong. As part of our “brave conversations” we learned that our staff wanted help (and hadn’t felt able to ask). We’ll share 2 simple tools we’ve started using to help our people develop.

Lisa Long (BigCo)

Agile Adventures at BigCo

I work at a large company (100+ product managers, 2000+ engineers, 12 time zones) and am working on rolling out Agile.  This is a case study of what happened since my arrival, where we’re hoping to get to, and the interesting discoveries of the particular challenges faced by a large organization trying to make the transition.

Colin Vipurs, Savvas Dalkitsis (Shazam)

Testing at Shazam

In 2010, Shazam decided to rewrite the application server infrastructure from the ground up. We applied BDD from day one and knew we were doing things “right”, or so we thought. This is a story of how we got it wrong and how we incrementally improved the tools and processes in light of the lessons learned. We’ll also dive briefly into how the lack of BDD support on Android ultimately influenced how the backend team approached testing.

Technical Sessions

We’re pleased to announce that alongside the open space and experience reports, we will be having the following technical sessions.

If you would like to attend any of these sessions, please bring a laptop with you. Any specific instructions for each session will be added into the description.

Accepting the Unexpectable – Duncan McGregor and Nat Pryce

How to do Acceptance Testing / BDD / Specification by Example when:
  • acceptance is qualitative rather than precise, or…
  • the behaviour you want to capture involves a lot of numerical data, that can be understood better through visualisation than text, or…
  • you are working exploratively and want to transition the results of exploratory programming to production.

Further description to follow soon.

User Centred BDD – Antony Marcano & Andy Palmer
Many teams don’t realise that their User Stories and Acceptance Scenarios are actually describing the solution they’re building rather than the user-capability they’re enabling. The closer to the solution the stories and scenarios are, the less flexibility we have and the less maintainable our scenarios become.
Focusing on the user-capability we’re enabling gives us more options for fulfilling the needs of our users and ensures that scenarios need to be maintained only when the actual user-need changes.
In this session, through practical hands-on exercises, we’ll explore the ‘Roles, Goals, Tasks and Actions’ model used in User Centred Design, to explore user-need based user-stories with capability-focused scenarios that increase the maintainability and relevance of the information they carry for the entire team.

It’s Time to Light the Lights – Richard Care and Duncan McGregor

Pit your skills against other teams to be the first to light the lights.

We provide Raspberry Pi computers and hardware – your job is to implement the control protocol.

Access to the target hardware is inconvenient, time on your own laptop is easier. Bring your development environment of choice for either a Python or a Java set up (these are the targets on the Raspberry Pi computers), and a Git client.

This is very much a programming exercise allied with understanding a non-trivial specification.

You should leave with some insights into how to write and test code that should feed back into the hum-drum world of banking or whatever.

We should have things to learn from the teams that do well. What things do you need to establish up-front, and what can be deferred? How useful is a detailed spec compared to the real world? How do objects and mocking compare to functional decomposition?



Travis Perkins is a title sponsor

We’re very pleased to welcome Travis Perkins as one of our title sponsors.

The Travis Perkins Group IT Department is a future thinking team that puts Software Professionalism at the top of its agenda. With recent investment we have been able to implement a number of changes to help facilitate putting these values into practice.

We’ve adopted the SAFeTM, Scaled Agile Framework, introducing both the Agile and Lean ways of working throughout our entire IT Department, and within our Engineering Teams have taken on XP practices such as Test Driven Development and Pair Programming as common practice.

The Travis Perkins Group is a £5 Billion FTSE 100 company with 17 businesses, 9 central functions, 1,900 sites across the UK and Ireland, and 24,000 employees. Our IT Department strives to deliver technology solutions that not only meet our extensive business needs but are innovative and forward thinking, enabling us to stay ahead of the curve.

Travis Perkins Group

Chris Matts keynote

We’ve also asked our own Chris Matts to give a keynote.

Real Options — Introducing Real Liquidity.

Real Options is a multi-faceted tool. A bit like the proverbial elephant, it looks different depending on your vantage point. This talk will introduce you to Real Options. It will show how it can be used to help you manage risk and your liquidity. In case you are worried, the talk will explain liquidity so that you can unlock the potential of Agile and Lean in your organisation. You’ll also get some tips on how to arrange your wedding day.

Real Options is a tool based on Financial Options Mathematics and Applied Psychology.

Chris Matts has nearly 20 years of experience in investment banking including strategy work as a practitioner rather than as a consultant. His specialist areas are real options, IT risk management, business value and agile analysis. He has been working in exotic credit derivatives for the past few years. Recently he donned sandals and beard to become an Agile Coach. Chris is a co-author of the graphic novel Commitments.

Sam Aaron keynote

We’re pleased to welcome Sam Aaron to give a keynote at XpDay.

Sonic Pi: Teaching Computer Science with Music

In the UK the school education system is experiencing radical reform. This is particularly the case with computing. There’s momentum to separate ICT from Computer Science and to place specific emphasis on the teaching of Computational Thinking. In broad terms, we shouldn’t just be teaching our children office skills such as formatting Word documents – we should be teaching them how to code and create their own software.

This talk introduces Sonic Pi, a music language and environment running on the Raspberry Pi specifically focussed on introducing core Computer Science concepts for KS3 students. Sonic Pi emphasises the importance of creativity in pedagogic contexts enabling learners to exhibit self-agency through the application of the taught ideas in musical works they create and own. Sonic Pi is currently being trialled by schools. We will discuss some early observations and initial success stories of using music and composition as a means for both introducing technical concepts and improving engagement and interest.

Sam Aaron is a live coder who, through considering programming as performance, focusses on enhancing the productivity and power of modern programming languages and environments. Sam believes that a programming environment which has sufficient liveness, rapid feedback and tolerance of failure to support the live performance of music is an environment ripe for mining novel ideas that will not only benefit artistic practices themselves but also the computer industry more generally.

In pursuit of this unique perspective Sam is the lead developer on a suite of open source tools: Overtone, a collaborative programmable music environment; Quil, an enhanced Clojure version of the visual language Processing; Emacs Live, a curated suite of Emacs tools, placing strong emphasis on live feedback and visual cues. Through this exploration Sam has been challenged to draw not only from his familiar territories of computer industry and academia but also from the arts, a combination Sam now believes to be essential for the development of well-researched, creative, innovative and practical ideas in this field.

Red Gate is a title sponsor

We’re very pleased to welcome Red Gate as one of our title sponsors.

Red Gate makes ingeniously simple software used by 650,000 IT professionals who work with SQL Server, Azure, .NET, and Oracle.

Our philosophy is to design highly usable, reliable tools which elegantly solve the problems that developers and database administrators face every day. We focus on software for database delivery, data management, and insight into how code performs, and many of our tools are the industry-standards in these areas.

See what makes development tick at Red Gate. Peek inside our company culture by reading The Book of Red Gate.

We’re currently hiring Software Engineers, Test Engineers, Technical
Authors and User Experience Designers.

Experience Reports

Experience Reports are one of the critical ways that the community learns. Hearing how other people have solved problems using new techniques is what inspires new methods.

Experience reports are a great way for people to get their first experience of presenting at a conference.

At XPDay we are interested in hearing your stories. The stories could be about:

1. Stories about new ways of solving problems.

2. Using established techniques in new ways.

3. A new problem that no one talks about.

4. A failure with an approach (We love these above all as we learn the things to avoid).

If you have a story you want to share, send an e:mail to chris dot matts at gmail dot com. We will then contact you to discuss your story.

The Experience Report People.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.