devXero's blog

a blog about agile, development, and automation

Posts Tagged ‘Agile’

Cloud Based Management

Posted by Mike Longin on August 23, 2010

This blog is probably not what you think it will be about.

Where I work we have a very flat management structure.  What this means to us is that their are very few steps between an employee and a director.  In fact virtually all members of a team report directly to a director.  Currently there are about 200 members of the staff and 2 directors (though we are scaling up to 4).  As part of this, we have created what I am calling a cloud based management team.  What this means is that while people have a direct supervisor, they tend to go to any supervisor to discuss any issue.  If director A is busy, people go see B and vice versa.  This tends to allow people the ability to talk to people that they are most comfortable with and also allows more access to our directors since they are so interchangeable.  Overall I have found this to be an incredibly simple, yet effective way to manage a large group of people without a large amount of overhead.  It is definitely not a perfect solution (which I believe to be one of the reasons we are scaling up), however it has been working well for us.  I believe that as we scale up it will be more like adding nodes to the cloud and not forcing people to deal with one specific manager.


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Interesting thread on hiring Agile Testers

Posted by Mike Longin on November 3, 2009

Thought this was a thread worth following

As I stated in the thread, it is a tough decision to hire developers to fill Agile Tester spots. Actually more to the point, it is tough to fill Agile Tester spots in general You are really looking for someone with good technical skills but with a true passion for testing. When you look at hiring a developer to fill that spot you are going to be getting those technical skills but there are times you will find that the candidate in question does not have the true passion for testing. If this is the case then it is a possibility that the job that they are asked to do will not be up to the needs of the team.

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Agile 2009 – Selenium Open Space

Posted by Mike Longin on August 30, 2009

The last day I was in Chicago I attended the Selenium Open Space sponsored by Adam Goucher (  There was no real pupose to the meet up, but I wanted to spend some more time talking to Adam and Jason Huggins (creator of Selenium) and to continue the debate of the future of the Selenium IDE.

A couple of my favorite points from the conversation were:
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Agile 2009 wrapup

Posted by Mike Longin on August 28, 2009

The conference this year was great.  I learned a ton of new information.  Some of my big take home items are

  • IDE’s are the next step in automated tools, we have the drivers and runners, now how do we get users using them
  • Self empowered teams do work if the team knows how to be empowered.  Properly trained coaches may be the answer
  • Feedback is one of the most vital parts of the scrum process
  • No matter how many teams your company has, they all work for the same company.  That is lost in the shuffle sometimes

The list is actually longer but those are the big items.

Thank you to all of the great presenters and everyone that put it on.

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Agile 2009 – Applying modern software development techniques to automating the web UI

Posted by Mike Longin on August 28, 2009

Chris Taylor ( and I have been working on this presentation for the past year.  The synopsis is that we need to take the lessons learned from development and apply them to automated testing.

Two quotes have really influenced us in this:

  • “Automated testing done right is Software Development” –Elfriede Dustin and Marcus Borch @ GTAC 2008
  • “Recorders are the training wheels of the automation world” –Loosely translated from Jason Huggins @ AA-FTT 2009

The presentation went off really well.  The best part were the questions at the end and the realization that we need to start providing tools for new people to really learn automation techniques.  Over the next month I am going to start creating smaller presentations on how to create automation from the ground up and how to avoid different pitfalls.

You can find the slides for the presentation here :

Below are also some of the pictures from the event (thanks John for taking these for us)

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Agile 2009 – day 4

Posted by Mike Longin on August 28, 2009

Last day of sessions.  I only really went to 2 sessions today and spoke at another.  The two I went to were two of the best sessions of the whole week.  Almost have to ask how these sessions could wait to the last but at least I got to see them.

Session 1 – Michael Bolton – Why is testing so slow

This was a very interesting session that examined the concept that testing is slow.  His site is and is one of those sites that if your reading this blog you should take the time to glance over.  His presentation really examined all of the issues that making testing slow and while I could not find his specific slides I did find these  The really explain the basis of his points.

However there were two additional points that he made that I wanted to reiterate:

  • Unclear requirements themselves do not slow down testing, instead it is the job of the tester to discover the unclear requirements
  • You never just test just to test, you test to provide information to others

I liked both points because they really do force you to look at testing from a different perspective.

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Using Microsoft Surface for poker planning

Posted by Mike Longin on August 27, 2009

I wish I had something to show for this post, but just trust me on the fact that I was shown a really cool tech demo.  EMC Consulting has integrated Microsoft Surface ( with poker planning.  I went to take some photos of it today but the demo had already been taken down.  I found this post ( that mentions the technology.  If anyone finds a demo or a video please let me know.

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Agile 2009 – day 3

Posted by Mike Longin on August 27, 2009

Session 1 – Agile @ Yahoo: Experiences from the Trenches

This was a great presentation.  Yahoo like Ultimate was trying to bring Agile to a large development team.  This really has been a very large obstacle for many organizations and it is always interesting to take the time to hear about the.  Yahoo initially started with some pilot teams (4) and then rolled it out to a larger group.  What they found was that as the implementation went further and further, teams started reintermpreting agile and became very fragmented.  Some of the symptoms were:

  • Cherry picking Scrum principles like pair programming and CI

The creation and use of multiple tracing tools

  • Sever micromanagement

To compensate they created Scrum coaching teams to help spread “good” agile DNA through the company.  What happened was that in 2008 when the coaching team was disbanded due to budget cuts, the DNA had fully integrated itself into the organization.  People wanted to be agile and wanted to keep the good ideas.  In affect they had the opportunity to learn a fairly important, though often ignored lesson

Bad Agile is worse the no Agile

Chris and I are planning on taking two ideas from Yahoo to really try to implement at Ultimate

  • Build an internal agile community that communicates regularly
  • Start making field trips to other teams scrum meetings and work to disperse scrum methodology.

You can read Chris’s entire thoughts on the presentation here  I think he really summed up the points well.

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The test step sweet spot

Posted by Mike Longin on August 27, 2009

As part of Chris McMahons ( presentation “History of a Large Test Automation Project using Selenium” he mentioned the concept of a test step sweet spot.  To him the general rule should be about 200 test steps.  For those that use Fitnesse that would be 200 assertions.  I have been thinking along these steps for a while and his comments finally gave rise to my inner dialog.  Once a test starts getting to long it does 2 things.

  1. It starts testing much more then an intial test case and creates many more failure points
  2. It becomes unmanageable to support.  If a failure happens later in the test run, it will be next to impossible to debug and deal and solve the issue

Every person writing tests should be looking for that sweet spot.  Looking at my test suite, I can see that for 200 Fitnesse\SWAT tests that I have the average assertion count is about 210.  However my most solid tests are all closer to around 150.  It is interesting to me that my numbers are so close to Chris’s.   From now on I am going to start paying more attention to a test and force myself to reexamine the test once I am above 150 and try to keep myself below 200.

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Red and green and why testing tools ignores my handicap

Posted by Mike Longin on August 27, 2009

The color blind of this world are at a serious disadvantage when it comes to testing tools.  As some people may know, colorblindness affects many people in this world and using red and green to show passing and failing puts these people at a severe disadvantage.  At a number of talks here I have brought up the difficulties in distinguishing tests passing and failing based purely on color (especially red and green.)

My suggestion to solve this is two fold.

  • If you are going to use colors use blue for passing and red for failing (this will solve red\green color blindness issues.)
  • Place a symbol for a failing \ passing test on each line

I hope these ideas will make it much easier for those who are colorblind to work with automated tests.  Let me know if you have any other ideas.

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