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does XP (or agile) make you a better developer?

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  • exault3d
    Hi, I ve been interested in XP for a couple of years, though I ve never worked in XP team. The company I currently work for is a nice place and I like the
    Message 1 of 13 , Sep 24, 2008
      Hi,

      I've been interested in XP for a couple of years, though I've never
      worked in XP team. The company I currently work for is a nice place and I
      like the people I work with but the way we create software seems to be
      very far from agile. The question is whether it would be better to leave
      the company and find more agile place or stay there, get more experienced
      (I'm 2+ years java developer) and try to convince other developers to use
      XP practices.

      To put the question more generally does working in XP (or agile) team make
      a big difference and help one to become a better developer compared to non-
      agile team?
    • Ola Ellnestam
      ... You could try. It s probably a long journey though. ... To me, it really did. I evolved as a programmer much quicker than I would have otherwise. I credit
      Message 2 of 13 , Sep 25, 2008
        > Hi,
        >
        > I've been interested in XP for a couple of years, though I've never
        > worked in XP team. The company I currently work for is a nice place and I
        > like the people I work with but the way we create software seems to be
        > very far from agile. The question is whether it would be better to leave
        > the company and find more agile place or stay there, get more experienced
        > (I'm 2+ years java developer) and try to convince other developers to use
        > XP practices.
        >

        You could try. It's probably a long journey though.

        > To put the question more generally does working in XP (or agile) team make
        > a big difference and help one to become a better developer compared to
        > non-
        > agile team?
        >
        >

        To me, it really did. I evolved as a programmer much quicker than I would
        have otherwise.

        I credit this to practices such as pair-programming, customer involvement,
        collective code ownership and more. Agile methods encourages and depends
        on a collaborative environment which works very well for me.

        Cheers,
        Ola

        ---------------------------------------------------------
        Ola Ellnestam
        Agical AB
        Västerlånggatan 79, 2 tr
        111 29 Stockholm, SWEDEN

        Mobile: +46-708-754000
        E-mail: ola.ellnestam@...
        Blog: http://ellnestam.wordpress.com
      • Victor
        Hi Exault, ... Quality of life is a highly valued commodity. Think it not two but many times before leaving your current job. The fact that you like the
        Message 3 of 13 , Sep 25, 2008
          Hi Exault,

          > The company I currently work for is a nice place and I like the people I work with but ...

          Quality of life is a highly valued commodity. Think it not two but many times before leaving your current job.
          The fact that you like the people probably points to the possibility that communication is good, so maybe they would be approachable to the concept of agile development. I would suggest you become familiar with at least some of the practices, like TDD and refactoring, before starting to preach them to others. Demonstrate to yourself that you can work more efficiently and with a smaller rate of bugs than anybody else. Once you are convinced by your cold facts, you can show them to others and start a meaningful conversation.

          There are two possible outcomes:
          1. Nobody will pay attention to you and then it will be a good time to start thinking about moving on, after you have given yourself and the rest of the team enough opportunities (more than just a few) to consider, or
          2. People will start paying positive attention to you and you'll be promoted to a position of leadership.

          Hope this helps,
          Víctor



          ----- Original Message -----
          From: exault3d
          To: extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com
          Sent: Thursday, September 25, 2008 2:47 AM
          Subject: [XP] does XP (or agile) make you a better developer?


          Hi,

          I've been interested in XP for a couple of years, though I've never
          worked in XP team. The company I currently work for is a nice place and I
          like the people I work with but the way we create software seems to be
          very far from agile. The question is whether it would be better to leave
          the company and find more agile place or stay there, get more experienced
          (I'm 2+ years java developer) and try to convince other developers to use
          XP practices.

          To put the question more generally does working in XP (or agile) team make
          a big difference and help one to become a better developer compared to non-
          agile team?





          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Laurent Bossavit
          Hi, ... You get to decide that for yourself, no matter what we tell you. ;) You re seeking ways to become a better developer. Here are some questions to
          Message 4 of 13 , Sep 25, 2008
            Hi,

            > The question is whether it would be better to leave
            > the company and find more agile place or stay there


            You get to decide that for yourself, no matter what we tell you. ;)

            You're seeking ways to become a better developer. Here are some
            questions to consider:
            - What does "better" mean to you?
            - How do you compare yourself to others around you?
            - How do others, in particular your management, make this comparison?
            - How well do those value systems line up with each other?

            There are many teams "out there" who are using some subset of the
            practices from XP and Scrum, as well as additional practices not
            covered in the books but nevertheless considered "agile" to some
            extent. I'm not sure they're all the same with respect to how they
            define "better".

            In some teams the paramount values have to do with visibility:
            reporting status, admitting mistakes and underlining successes,
            showing what works and what doesn't. These teams stress
            retrospectives, iteration planning, release planning, Big Visible
            Charts. In other teams what is paramount is quality: clean code that
            works, few bugs, simplicity. These teams stress TDD, refactoring,
            YAGNI. For yet other teams the primary values are clustered around
            respect and communication. Pairing, talking, listening, and so on.

            And this isn't even close to a full list. The bottom line is to find
            what matters to you, whether the label "agile" applies to that or not.

            I once faced a dilemma very similar to yours. I suspect many of us on
            this list have - given the popularity of the tag line "change your
            organization, or change your organization". I learned a lot from my
            attempts to get better; so it goes for many here. Many of us have
            tried it both ways, both staying on to do our "clandestine" best, and
            leaving to join more fulfilling opportunities. The former carries a
            risk of frustration, the latter carries a risk of disappointment. The
            more you find out about yourself, the lesser those risks.

            Whatever you do, go for it with gusto. ;)

            Cheers,
            Laurent Bossavit
            laurent@...
          • Steven Gordon
            ... Another alternative is to find an agile project to moonlight on (in your geographical area, or perhaps an open source project). You might find better
            Message 5 of 13 , Sep 25, 2008
              On Wed, Sep 24, 2008 at 11:47 PM, exault3d <no.mail.su@...> wrote:
              > Hi,
              >
              > I've been interested in XP for a couple of years, though I've never
              > worked in XP team. The company I currently work for is a nice place and I
              > like the people I work with but the way we create software seems to be
              > very far from agile. The question is whether it would be better to leave
              > the company and find more agile place or stay there, get more experienced
              > (I'm 2+ years java developer) and try to convince other developers to use
              > XP practices.
              >
              > To put the question more generally does working in XP (or agile) team make
              > a big difference and help one to become a better developer compared to non-
              > agile team?
              >

              Another alternative is to find an agile project to moonlight on (in
              your geographical area, or perhaps an open source project). You might
              find better agile moonlighting opportunities by learning Ruby on Rails
              at the same time.

              This would provide an opportunity to practice agile software
              development, and see if you like it and if it makes you a better
              developer, before making a potentially risky decision about your
              current day job.

              Steve
            • Cory Foy
              I worked for several years to bring agile practices from the ground up to the organizations I was working for. I finally decided to move halfway across the
              Message 6 of 13 , Sep 25, 2008
                I worked for several years to bring agile practices from the ground up to the organizations I was working for. I finally decided to move halfway across the country to work for a company that practiced XP. I think it was very much worth it for both the learning experience and the validation of the practices.

                I would suggest following "Change your company, or change your company" if you are unhappy where you are.

                Cory (from mobile)

                -----Original Message-----
                From: "exault3d" <no.mail.su@...>
                To: extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com
                Sent: 9/25/08 2:47 AM
                Subject: [XP] does XP (or agile) make you a better developer?

                Hi,

                I've been interested in XP for a couple of years, though I've never
                worked in XP team. The company I currently work for is a nice place and I
                like the people I work with but the way we create software seems to be
                very far from agile. The question is whether it would be better to leave
                the company and find more agile place or stay there, get more experienced
                (I'm 2+ years java developer) and try to convince other developers to use
                XP practices.

                To put the question more generally does working in XP (or agile) team make
                a big difference and help one to become a better developer compared to non-
                agile team?
              • Seyit Caglar Abbasoglu
                I think it s always worth experiencing. If you have the opportunity to move around and try different paths, take it. It s much better than sticking to one path
                Message 7 of 13 , Sep 25, 2008
                  I think it's always worth experiencing. If you have the opportunity to move
                  around and try different paths, take it. It's much better than sticking to
                  one path (even agile path) without knowing what others' doing.

                  I have a friend which started his software development career in a company I
                  was working and his first experience was how we try to better ourselves by
                  questioning the value of every single thing we do. What we did was not
                  exactly XP but we were honoring very similar values. Then he needed to
                  change his job and started to work for a bigger, more traditional company
                  (He doubled his salary). After sometime I talked to him and he said me "I
                  wish I have never worked with you. Now I really know the meaning of the
                  idiom -Ignorance is blessing-. No matter what I do and what I try I can not
                  ignore the silly, useless things we do in order to develop a crap software,
                  in my current job"

                  I sometimes think it's better for a new graduate to work in a traditional
                  company, in order to really understand the holiness of agile:)


                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • Doug Stewart
                  I would say that working on an XP team offers undeniable growth. Agile teams, not so much. The primary growth comes from cross-fertilization of ideas,
                  Message 8 of 13 , Sep 25, 2008
                    I would say that working on an XP team offers undeniable growth. Agile
                    teams, not so much. The primary growth comes from cross-fertilization of
                    ideas, concepts, approaches, and practices. Not every pairing session
                    offers these things, but over time, the culmination of every pairing
                    session builds communication skills, programming skills, design
                    knowledge, tool usage, system knowledge, design wisdom, etc...

                    The growth is not only as a programmer/developer, but also as a person,
                    team-mate, partner. Communication improvement includes both technical
                    and non-technical forms.

                    That is, if one is willing to listen.

                    Doug Stewart

                    exault3d wrote:
                    >
                    >
                    > Hi,
                    >
                    > I've been interested in XP for a couple of years, though I've never
                    > worked in XP team. The company I currently work for is a nice place and I
                    > like the people I work with but the way we create software seems to be
                    > very far from agile. The question is whether it would be better to leave
                    > the company and find more agile place or stay there, get more experienced
                    > (I'm 2+ years java developer) and try to convince other developers to use
                    > XP practices.
                    >
                    > To put the question more generally does working in XP (or agile) team make
                    > a big difference and help one to become a better developer compared to non-
                    > agile team?
                  • Joshua Kerievsky
                    Nice post Doug. How refreshing to hear someone who understands the great value in pairing. Best jk Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile ... From: Doug Stewart
                    Message 9 of 13 , Sep 25, 2008
                      Nice post Doug. How refreshing to hear someone who understands the great value in pairing. Best jk
                      Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

                      -----Original Message-----
                      From: Doug Stewart <ironmug@...>

                      Date: Thu, 25 Sep 2008 17:47:30
                      To: <extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com>
                      Subject: Re: [XP] does XP (or agile) make you a better developer?


                      I would say that working on an XP team offers undeniable growth. Agile
                      teams, not so much. The primary growth comes from cross-fertilization of
                      ideas, concepts, approaches, and practices. Not every pairing session
                      offers these things, but over time, the culmination of every pairing
                      session builds communication skills, programming skills, design
                      knowledge, tool usage, system knowledge, design wisdom, etc...

                      The growth is not only as a programmer/developer, but also as a person,
                      team-mate, partner. Communication improvement includes both technical
                      and non-technical forms.

                      That is, if one is willing to listen.

                      Doug Stewart

                      exault3d wrote:
                      >
                      >
                      > Hi,
                      >
                      > I've been interested in XP for a couple of years, though I've never
                      > worked in XP team. The company I currently work for is a nice place and I
                      > like the people I work with but the way we create software seems to be
                      > very far from agile. The question is whether it would be better to leave
                      > the company and find more agile place or stay there, get more experienced
                      > (I'm 2+ years java developer) and try to convince other developers to use
                      > XP practices.
                      >
                      > To put the question more generally does working in XP (or agile) team make
                      > a big difference and help one to become a better developer compared to non-
                      > agile team?


                      ------------------------------------

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                    • Dmitry Kandalov
                      Thank you all for responses. I got ideas I wouldn t consider otherwise and rethought old ones. As Victor correctly suggested, communication is quite good
                      Message 10 of 13 , Sep 26, 2008
                        Thank you all for responses. I got ideas I wouldn't consider otherwise and
                        rethought old ones.

                        As Victor correctly suggested, communication is quite good within the team (in
                        terms of XP practices we would probably qualify for "sit together" and "shared
                        code"). What frustrates me the most is the absence of planning and the
                        culture of "put breakpoint and debug" rather than "break dependencies
                        and write a test" (it's especially frustrating when I'm kind of pairing with
                        someone). I write unit tests and use TDD whenever it seems feasible and in
                        some cases I was able to convince others that it worked well, but this wasn't
                        enough for them to actually give unit tests a try. Perhaps, I should try it
                        some other way. On the other hand, in a team practicing TDD I could probably
                        learn how to do these things in a much more effective way (after all real
                        experience should be better than reading books).


                        On Thursday 25 September 2008 16:04:07 Laurent Bossavit wrote:
                        > You're seeking ways to become a better developer. Here are some
                        > questions to consider:
                        > - What does "better" mean to you?
                        > - How do you compare yourself to others around you?
                        > - How do others, in particular your management, make this comparison?
                        > - How well do those value systems line up with each other?

                        These are very good questions. It makes me think that to get the right answer
                        I need to ask myself the right question. I haven't thought "better"
                        can be somewhat different among agile teams. What I meant by "better" is
                        something general like bringing more value to customer in a sustainable way.


                        Dima
                      • Kristofer Hansson
                        Hi exault3d I m more or less in the same situation as you and have recently decided to move on to another employer. The biggest reason for this is that I think
                        Message 11 of 13 , Sep 26, 2008
                          Hi exault3d

                          I'm more or less in the same situation as you and have recently
                          decided to move on to another employer. The biggest reason for this is
                          that I think having other people around me striving towards the same
                          goals will vastly help me improving in my work and becoming a better
                          developer.

                          I have for the last 4-5 years found a great interest improving my and
                          fellow coworkers way of conducting work along the lines of
                          Agile/XP/SCRUM. I read, I practice, and least but not last try to
                          introduce these practices at work. I'm working in a quite large
                          organization and do not currently hold a position where I have the
                          possibility to seriously influence the way we work. My attempts to
                          change these things have therefore been through introducing grass-root
                          changes. I have successfully managed to introduced tdd and, occasional
                          pair-programming, vertical implementation of features etc. Despite
                          these improvements I feel that we still have a long way to go and that
                          the current improvement rate is too slow. Another important aspect is
                          that there are actually few people seriously interested in moving
                          toward a more agile way of working. I have therefore decided to try to
                          find another employer instead of continuing to struggle trying to
                          improve things at the current.

                          /Kristofer

                          --- In extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com, "exault3d" <no.mail.su@...>
                          wrote:
                          >
                          > Hi,
                          >
                          > I've been interested in XP for a couple of years, though I've never
                          > worked in XP team. The company I currently work for is a nice place
                          and I
                          > like the people I work with but the way we create software seems to be
                          > very far from agile. The question is whether it would be better to
                          leave
                          > the company and find more agile place or stay there, get more
                          experienced
                          > (I'm 2+ years java developer) and try to convince other developers
                          to use
                          > XP practices.
                          >
                          > To put the question more generally does working in XP (or agile)
                          team make
                          > a big difference and help one to become a better developer compared
                          to non-
                          > agile team?
                          >
                        • D. André Dhondt
                          Dmitry, In skimming these responses I didn t see what I d suggest, but sorry if this is repetitive: I ve been really happy by going to my local Agile user s
                          Message 12 of 13 , Oct 2, 2008
                            Dmitry,

                            In skimming these responses I didn't see what I'd suggest, but sorry if this
                            is repetitive:

                            I've been really happy by going to my local Agile user's group meetings on a
                            regular basis. You can get a pretty good list of them from the Agile
                            Alliance site (http://www.agilealliance.org/show/1641). You may hear about
                            enough interesting things to try at your current job that you'll be happier;
                            or you might meet someone you'd prefer to work with. If there are no groups
                            near you, try going to some of the smaller conferences or an open-spaces
                            style conference (find them at Agile-ANN@yahoogroups.com)

                            On Fri, Sep 26, 2008 at 9:31 AM, Dmitry Kandalov <no.mail.su@...>wrote:

                            > Thank you all for responses. I got ideas I wouldn't consider otherwise
                            > and
                            > rethought old ones.
                            >
                            > As Victor correctly suggested, communication is quite good within the team
                            > (in
                            > terms of XP practices we would probably qualify for "sit together" and
                            > "shared
                            > code"). What frustrates me the most is the absence of planning and the
                            > culture of "put breakpoint and debug" rather than "break dependencies
                            > and write a test" (it's especially frustrating when I'm kind of pairing
                            > with
                            > someone). I write unit tests and use TDD whenever it seems feasible and in
                            > some cases I was able to convince others that it worked well, but this
                            > wasn't
                            > enough for them to actually give unit tests a try. Perhaps, I should try it
                            >
                            > some other way. On the other hand, in a team practicing TDD I could
                            > probably
                            > learn how to do these things in a much more effective way (after all real
                            > experience should be better than reading books).
                            >
                            >
                            > On Thursday 25 September 2008 16:04:07 Laurent Bossavit wrote:
                            > > You're seeking ways to become a better developer. Here are some
                            > > questions to consider:
                            > > - What does "better" mean to you?
                            > > - How do you compare yourself to others around you?
                            > > - How do others, in particular your management, make this comparison?
                            > > - How well do those value systems line up with each other?
                            >
                            > These are very good questions. It makes me think that to get the right
                            > answer
                            > I need to ask myself the right question. I haven't thought "better"
                            > can be somewhat different among agile teams. What I meant by "better" is
                            > something general like bringing more value to customer in a sustainable
                            > way.
                            >
                            > Dima
                            >
                            >



                            --
                            D. André Dhondt
                            mobile: 001 33 671 034 984


                            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                          • Dmitry Kandalov
                            ... There are no local group meetings I m aware of. Thanks for advice. I just joined Agile-ANN group. Dima
                            Message 13 of 13 , Oct 9, 2008
                              On Thursday 02 October 2008 11:15:43 D. André Dhondt wrote:

                              > In skimming these responses I didn't see what I'd suggest, but sorry if
                              > this is repetitive:
                              >
                              > I've been really happy by going to my local Agile user's group meetings on
                              > a regular basis. You can get a pretty good list of them from the Agile
                              > Alliance site (http://www.agilealliance.org/show/1641). You may hear about
                              > enough interesting things to try at your current job that you'll be
                              > happier; or you might meet someone you'd prefer to work with. If there are
                              > no groups near you, try going to some of the smaller conferences or an
                              > open-spaces style conference (find them at Agile-ANN@yahoogroups.com)

                              There are no local group meetings I'm aware of.
                              Thanks for advice. I just joined Agile-ANN group.


                              Dima
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