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Author Archives: Jim Bird

Jim Bird
Jim is an experienced CTO, software development manager and project manager, who has worked on high-performance, high-reliability mission-critical systems for many years, as well as building software development tools. His current interests include scaling Lean and Agile software development methodologies, software security and software assurance.

Don’t waste time tracking technical debt

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For the last couple of years we’ve been tracking technical debt in our development backlog. Adding debt payments to the backlog, making the cost and risk of technical debt visible to the team and to the Product Owner, prioritizing payments with other work, is supposed to ensure that debt gets paid down. But I am not convinced that it is ...

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Required Reading: Iron Clad Java

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They didn’t teach appsec in Comp Sci or in engineering or MIS or however you learned how to program. And they probably still don’t. So how could you be expected to know about XSS filter evasion or clickjacking attacks, or how to really store passwords safely. Your company can’t afford to send you on expensive appsec training, and you’re too ...

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If you got bugs, you’ll get pwned

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The SEI recently published some fascinating research which shows a clear relationship between software quality and software security. The consensus of researchers is that at least half, and maybe as many as 70% of common software vulnerabilities are fundamental code quality problems that could be prevented by writing better software. Sloppy coding. Not checking input data. Bad – or no ...

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We can’t measure Programmer Productivity… or can we?

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If you go to Google and search for “measuring software developer productivity” you will find a whole lot of nothing. Seriously — nothing. Nick Hodges, Measuring Developer Productivity By now we should all know that we don’t know how to measure programmer productivity. There is no clear cut way to measure which programmers are doing a better or faster job, ...

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Different Ways of Scaling Agile

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At this year’s Construx Software Executive Summit one of the problems that we explored was how to scale software development, especially Agile development, across projects, portfolios, geographies and enterprises. As part of this, we looked at 3 different popular methods for scaling Agile: LeSS (Large Scale Scrum), SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework), and DAD (Disciplined Agile Delivery). LeSS and LeSS Huge ...

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Don’t Waste Time Writing Perfect Code

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A system can last for 5 or 10 or even 20 or more years. But the life of specific lines of code, even of designs, is often much shorter: months or days or even minutes when you’re iterating through different approaches to a solution. Some code matters more than other code Researching how code changes over time, Michael Feathers has ...

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Can Static Analysis replace Code Reviews?

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In my last post, I explained how to do code reviews properly. I recommended taking advantage of static analysis tools like Findbugs, PMD, Klocwork or Fortify to check for common mistakes and bad code before passing the code on to a reviewer, to make the reviewer’s job easier and reviews more effective. Some readers asked whether static analysis tools can ...

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Don’t waste time on Code Reviews

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Less than half of development teams do code reviews and the other half are probably not getting as much out of code reviews as they should. Here’s how to not waste time on code reviews. Keep it Simple Many people still think of code reviews as expensive formal code inspection meetings, with lots of prep work required before a room ...

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Feature Toggles are one of the worst kinds of Technical Debt

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Feature flags or config flags aka feature toggles aka flippers are an important part of Devops practices like dark launching (releasing features immediately and incrementally), A/B testing, and branching in code or branching by abstraction (so that development teams can all work together directly on the code mainline instead of creating separate feature branches). Feature toggles can be simple Boolean ...

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