More XP-rience

  • Thu, August 25, 4:00pm – 4:30pm
  • First Name: Niall
  • Last Name: Ross
  • Type: Talk

Abstract: In the 15 years since I last presented my 'XP-rience' of eXtreme Programming to ESUG, I've had a lot more experience: of working in partly and wholly not-colocated teams; of how I and others actually think while doing XP; of the disadvantages and positive advantages of non-colocation; of what is most used and most needed in tools. This talk will let you (and me) discover if I've learned anything in the last decade and a half.

Bio: Niall ended his undergraduate career with two intellectual interests: computing and the theory of relativity. A quick check of how much commercial work was available to relativity and gravitation theorists made him decide to do academic research in that field and then seek a commercial job in computing, rather than the other way round. Niall started working commercially in IT in 1985. At first, he was assigned to designing and implementing software engineering process improvements; only after three years did he begin significant writing and delivery of commercial software. This experience taught him that intelligent people can form foolish ideas about software engineering if they have not worked at the coding coalface of real, large commercial projects.

Learning from this, Niall spent the nineties working on software to manage complex, rapidly changing telecoms networks. A side effect of this work was that it taught him much about how scale and rate of change affects software. Early in the nineties, he discovered Smalltalk. The more he used it the more he came to recognize its power in this area. This perception was strengthened when he spent a year delivering a telecoms management system in Java.

At the end of the decade, Niall formed his own software company to offer consultancy in meta-data system design, Smalltalk and agile methods. Over the next decade, he worked on a variety of meta-data-driven systems, mostly in the financial domain.

Niall joined the Cincom Smalltalk Engineering Team nearly eight years ago. His first task was to lead the team that does the weekly VisualWorks builds - an experience he likened to doing brain surgery on yourself every Friday (e.g., "Prepare new memory for insertion, remove old memory … uh, I can't remember what I was going to do next!").

Currently, he leads the Glorp and Database team. He also leads the Custom Refactoring open-source project, which he co-founded, and the SUnit open-source project.