On 11, 12 and 13 May 2 colleagues and I went to london for the Progressive .NET exchange organized by Skills Matter. It turned out to be a very interesting conference, with many renowned speakers from the open source .net scene. The conference had 2 concurrent tracks to choose from.
On the first day I chose to go to Gojko Adzics sessions on specification by example and fitnesse. In this session Gojko presented the idea to use examples to drive requirements specification. It was a very intense workshop that used the game of Blackjack as an example to make the point. In small groups we were asked to write a full specification for the rules of Blackjack using just examples. It turned out to be very useful to use examples, as it presses on the importance of “the what” and “the why” over “the how”. In the afternoon session we implemented Fitnesse to automate the acceptance testing for the application. I had never seen Fitnesse and it was funny to see some concepts converge. The easiest way to describe Fitnesse is to say that it is a wiki with green and red bits. You write wiki pages to describe the acceptance criteria for a project, and you specify examples to back up the description. You use tables to layout the examples, which can than be automatically verified by Fitnesse. If someone is interested in what this is, and how it works, I might be able to give a short demo during one of the next KSSs.

Tuesday morning I chose the Robert Pickering session. It was on the programming language F#, a topic on which he has written a book and has extensive knowledge, but the session was more on syntax, and he’s not a very good speaker. A little bit of a disappointment. The afternoon I went to Ayendes Advanced NHibernate workshop. It was very intense. He tackled 25 topics in 4 hours, answering questions from the audience. From caching over security toward meta data. Later that night we went to the alt.net UK beers, which was a very interesting experience. It was a dynamic discussion based on topics suggested and elected by the audience, hosted in the cellar of a pub, with lots of free beer. People shouting, giving opinions and laughing. Very fun indeed.

Wednesday – the final day – I attended the sessions of David Laribee. Towards a new Architect, Lean, Kanban, Team Values, Diverging and converging brainstorming specification sessions. These sessions were very practical. In small groups we discussed team values – defined what matters most in a development team, where the priorities for all stakeholders essentially lay. We worked together to define a new product – a medical device to manage patient data and facilitate doctor interaction and his daily work flow. We did this using a “design storm”. First everyone created something individually, then we came together in small groups of five and compared the results. Made a group synthesis and presented the results. Then the entire group discussed the results and moved towards an agreed upon result. In the afternoon, we continued to build a product, but this time a site to play a fantasy soccer strategy game, based on the real soccer players and results from matches. It was a lot of fun, and the exercise tried to show how agile, lean and kanban can be useful in software planning and development.
Other interesting subjects that came up during this sessions were the pomodoro technique, Towards new Architecture, ten usability heuristics, …

The only downside of the conference was the dodgy Internet connection. Otherwise it would have been even more enjoyable and interesting. Overall it was very instructive and lots of fun!

See what other people had to say about it.

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