Thoughts on Engineering Management

Thinking about Senior Engineers

What makes a person a Senior Software Engineer? Is it their technical knowledge? The amount of languages, libraries or development techniques they know? Or maybe it’s just an indicator of the number of years experience they have? In so many cases, you become a Senior engineer through a combination of these reasons. The best “Senior” engineers I’ve worked with have got there because of their attitude and not their aptitude.

You can keep your bug-tracker, just use it less!

I recently published an article on my blog titled “You don’t need a bug tracker”. This article was also syndicated on DZone. Following the publication I received some feedback on it’s contents. I’d like to take this opportunity to clear up a few things. The title 🔗I’m aware that the title is inflammatory. It’s also a little disingenuous. Of course, our development teams use issue trackers. Like source control, any good development team will use an issue tracker.

You don't need a bug-tracker

If you’re writing software, chances are you use some sort of issue tracking tool. Or to be more precise, you most likely have a bug tracker. Jira, Bugzilla, heck, even an Excel spreadsheet. If you’re diligent every time you find a bug you’ll create a ticket in the tool. Most bug-tracking tools will guide you to add a severity and assign a priority. The aim of classifying a defect in this way is to help you know what to work on next.

Øredev 2014 - Day Three

I’ve finally got round to adding my notes from the final day of Øredev 2014. It’s taken a little longer than I anticipated due to travel and work commitments. You can find the rest of my notes in part one and part two. Opening Keynote: The most human human - Brian Christian 🔗Brian opened the final day of Øredev with a talk focussed on the Turing test and the different approaches that have been taken over the years in an attempt to beat the test.

Øredev 2014 - Day Two

This is the second in a three part series giving an overview of the sessions I attended at Øredev 2014. Part one of the series can be found here. Opening Keynote: Getting comfortable, being uncomfortable - Keavy McMinn - Github 🔗Day 2 started with a Keynote for Keavy McMinn, a self-described maker from Github. Keavy has a passion for fine art and used the keynote to walk the audience through some of the pieces she has created for recent exhibitions.

Øredev 2014 - Day One

I attended Øredev 2014 to present a talk with Ben Kelly on the relationship between testers and developers at eBay. The details of the talk we gave can be seen here. Whilst at the conference, I took the opportunity to attend a number of other sessions. Øredev is a conference with a wide range of talks covering topics such as agile development, Java, .Net, testing, user experience and front-end development. As such, the sessions I attended were varied, although I did attend a fair number targetted at front-end development.

Waiter, there's test in my dev! - Øredev 2014

This week I completed my first talk at a major developer conference, Øredev in Malmö. I found it both nerve-racking and exciting in the lead up to the talk, but once I got started I soon settled in and concentrated on the content. I was extremely fortunate to be able to do this talk with Ben Kelly, an experienced tester and fellow development team lead. His experience of doing these kind of talks was invaluable.

Setting goals for effective iterations

All agile teams building software do it every day. The time might vary. Ours is at 9.45am. Some do it just before lunch, others at the end of the day but if you’re working in an agile team, it’s likely that you have a daily stand-up. As an estimate, I think I’ve attended over 1000 daily stand-up meetings over the past 5 years. With all the agile teams I’ve worked with in this time I’ve noticed that the quality of these stand-ups has varied.

A tester in development

Ben has superpowers. He’s no different to any of us in that way. I consider my superpowers to be in the area of agile team development. Other engineers on my team have superpowers in mobile web. Another lists javascript whilst someone else counts algorithms and data structures as theirs. Ben’s superpowers are a little different. They’re something which sets him apart from the rest of us. You see, Ben lists his powers as “software testing and finding fault with stuff”.

Putting Facebook on Pause

In the week that Facebook turned 10, I decided to rethink my own use of the social network. I’ve been a Facebook member since 2006 at a time when you needed an academic email address to join. Eight years ago my Facebook friends contained other academics and alumni. Following Facebook’s decision to open up registration my lists swelled with family members, co-workers and old school-friends. Since then, Facebook has been losing value for me.