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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.

Code and Code Reviews: What’s in a Name?

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In a code review a developer needs to look at the code from two different perspectives: Correctness. Is the code logically correct, does it do what it is supposed to do? Will it hold up in the real world? Is it safe? Does it handle errors and exceptions? Does it check for bad input parameters and return values? Is it ...

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Appsec and Technical Debt

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Technical debt is a fact of life for anyone working in software development: work that needs to be done to make the system cleaner and simpler and cheaper to run over the long term, but that the business doesn’t know about or doesn’t see as a priority. This is because technical debt is mostly hidden from the people that use ...

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Design Doesn’t Emerge from Code

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I know a lot of people who are transitioning to Agile or already following Agile development methods. Almost all of them are using something based on Scrum at the core, mixed with common XP practices like Continuous Integration and refactoring and automated unit testing – pretty much how Mike Cohn says things should be done in his book Succeeding with ...

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Frankensystems, Half-Strangled Zombies and other Monsters

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There are lots of ugly things that can happen to a system over time. This is what the arguments over technical debt are all about – how to keep code from getting ugly and fragile and hard to understand and more expensive to maintain over time, because of sloppiness and short-sighted decision making. But some of the ugliest things that ...

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Hardening Sprints. What are they? Do you need them?

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For anyone who is developing software using Scrum, XP or another incremental development approach, the idea of a “hardening sprint” or a “release iteration” is bound to come up. But people disagree about what a “hardening sprint” should include, when you need to do one, and if you should do them at all. There is a deep divide between people ...

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Classic Mistakes in Software Development and Maintenance

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…the only difference between experienced and inexperienced developers is that the experienced ones realize when they’re making mistakes. Jeff Atwood, Escaping from Gilligan’s Island An important part of risk management, and responsible management at all, is making sure that you aren’t doing anything obviously stupid. Steve McConnell’s list of Classic Mistakes is a place to start: a list of common ...

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Don’t take the Technical Debt Metaphor too far

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Because “technical debt” has the word “debt” in it, many people have decided that it makes sense to think and work with technical debt in monetary terms, and treat technical debt as a real financial cost. This is supposed to make it easier for technical people to explain technical debt to the business, and easier to make a business case ...

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Why Scrum Won

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In the 1990s and early 2000s a number of different lightweight ‘agile’ development methods sprung up. Today a few shops use Extreme Programming, including most notably ThoughtWorks and Industrial Logic. But if you ask around, especially in enterprise shops, almost everybody who is “doing Agile” today is following Scrum or something based on Scrum. What happened? Why did Scrum win ...

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Predictability – Making Promises you can Keep

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Speed – being first to market, rapid innovation and conducting fast cheap experiments – is critically important to startups and many high tech firms. This is where Lean Startup ideas and Continuous Deployment come in. And this is why many companies are following Agile development, to design and deliver software quickly and flexibly, incorporating feedback and responding to change. But ...

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