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JAOO Day 3 - summary

26 Sep 2007 . tech . Comments #jaoo #tdd #software craftsmanship

Today was the last day of the conference part of JAOO. It’s not over, though, as there will be tutorials tomorrow and Friday.

I spent most of the day in the track called Professional Developer. This track was hosted by Bob Martin, and featured a lot of interesting talks. First up was Kevlin Henney, who did a talk called With Economy and Elegance. I always find Kevlin to be an interesting speaker, and this was no different. The only “problem” with Kevlin is that he is so smart and such a fast thinker, that it is really hard to keep up with his ideas. I hadn’t seen Kevlin until today, and was wondering where he had got to this year, and I was pleasantly surprised when he came up to me before the talk and said hello and chatted for a while. He told med that he had been travelling a lot lately, amongst other places, to Trondheim!!!, and therefore couldn’t justify spending the whole week in Aarhus.

Following Kevlin was a talk by Laurent Bossavit that describe the old craftsman societies of France and Europe and how they were structured and how they handled passing on the craft. There is a resurgence of such societies that also include software professionals, and the ideas of craftsmen and their apprentices and journeymen are an interesting way of dealing with training in the software profession.

The third talk of the day, was a chance for me to see and hear Michael Feather speak for the first time. Michael has written many influential articles and books, from the humble dialog, through rules for unit tests to the book “Working Effectively with legacy code”. He did a really interesting talk on error prevention, listing several techniques for preventing bugs in code including inspection, design-by-contract, formal notation for specification and test driven development. His point was that we are not using these techniques to the extent we should, and that they all have value and we should use at least one of them. As you may know, I’m a real fan of Test-Driven Development, and prefer that, but I see that something like design-by-contract can have its benefits as well.

The final talk was by Pete McBreen on Software Craftsmanship. Pete has written a book by the same name that I really enjoyed, and I think that looking at software development as a craft has real benefits.

I took the last session off, and just wandered around for a bit, trying to let my impressions sink in a bit. During this time I finally also caught up with Dave Thomas (Smalltalk Dave or Big Dave, not Prag Dave), who I also hadn’t seen earlier at this conference. I thought that was strange because he is on the program committee, and he told me that he too came in only last night, having spent the last couple of weeks on safari in Africa. Then I ran into Charlie Nutter and Thomas Enebo (the JRuby guys), and ended up hanging out with them looking at the JRuby code. I’ll talk more about that in another post, but the thing that really surprised me was that I was able to download their trunk from subversion, load it up into Netbeans, and successfully run the JUnit tests without failures. That shows great dedication on their part.

We all went together to listen to the final panel, where Erik Meijer, Eric Evans, Erik Dörenburg (Thoughtworks) and Diana Larsen (Agile coach) debated about key things they had learned at the conference. The panel was led by Martin Fowler. Interestingly one of their main points was Glenn Vanderburg’s talk on The overlooked power of JavaScript, and this really got an interesting discussion going in the audience.

Charlie and Thomas were going to the speakers dinner, and the bus was leaving from my hotel, so we went back there and had a quick beer together before they had to leave. Those two are really interesting individuals, and clearly were committed to making a Java implementation for Ruby so that the rest of us can enjoy Ruby on the JVM. I’m going to look into ways to help them with this. This is something I would like to contribute to if I’m able. We’ll see.

So the final day is over. Now only the tutorial tomorrow remains. That promises to be interesting, and I’ll let you know how that went tomorrow afternoon.