Agile2011 Round-up: Day 3

Exploratory Testing In An Agile Context (9:00)

This talk was given by Elisabeth Hendrickson. Elisabeth’s twitter handle is @testobsessed and I’d say that suites her entirely. She is obsessed with testing. That was pretty obvious.

This was more a workshop than a talk so it was very interactive again. The idea here was to practice thinking about how to uncover tests suited to a given design by playing a game called scrabble flash. It worked well. As small groups, we were able to identify a few interesting test conditions just by trying different things with the game. This was another exercise where I’ve seen that a big part of software testing is about creating opportunities that fuel curiosity and creativity in the mind of the tester. I’m starting to think that we’re not quite curious enough in hardware testing.

fwiw… if you’re looking for a scrabble flash partner, I’d go with Jon Kern. He’s a pro.

Applying Agile In Hardware Development… We’re Not That Different After All (11:00)

My turn… finally! We had about 20-25 people in the room today for my talk. Just a good number of people for the size of the room. As you can tell by the third slide in my presentation, I feel I’m definitely playing the role of outsider here at Agile2011. But that passed as soon as people starting asking questions. I got some very good questions regarding where agile is most applicable and how we can get software developers more involved. The discussions afterward were very encouraging. Thanks to everyone that attended. I felt uncertain walking in and encouraged walking out. It was a great experience and I sincerely hope there’s more embedded agile in the cards for future agile conferences. James Grenning and Nancy Van Schooenderwoert have done a great job putting the stage together. It’s come at a good time too with embedded systems becoming increasingly relevant.

Agile And The 21st Century Corporation (1:30)

I decided to shake things up with the 1:30 slot and attend a talk in the business and project management track. I’ll admit that I got to this one late and some of the material went over my head, but the discussion at the table I sat at was really good (again).

One ah-ha moment I had was triggered in this session when Jason Dean the presenter talked about a corporation that had a failed attempt at adopting agile after which they back to the “old way”. Seems a common theme where corporations attempt agile once, fail at it and return to the way they’ve always done things. But what happens when they fail at the “old way”? Seems organizations are much more tolerant of that kind of failure.

The next very practical bit of advice came regarding development metrics. Jason pointed out that many organizations track many metrics for no reason and that doing so creates a lot of overhead and bureaucracy. He recommended people ask themselves why they are tracking certain things. Are they being used? By who? And when? Just asking the questions can potentially cut out a lot of what isn’t helping and bring focus to was is helping.

Agile Hardware And Co-Design (3:30)

This was a good talk from Timo Punkka from Finland. This was interesting for me because I reviewed Timo’s slides a couple weeks ago so we could make sure we weren’t overlapping material (considering we were on the same stage). This was a case where the slides on their own a couple of weeks ago didn’t carry the entire message; having Timo talk through them was huge.

He explained situations where he and his team built embedded software and boards using agile. Yes, actual boards! The most striking example was a 10 week project where the team built 3 prototypes during that time so they could fine tune the design of the board and corresponding software. In another project, he described how they built an enclosure that relied on a model of the end board. With that they were able to test things like cabling and if I remember right, the model of the board uncovered a bug in the mechanical design.

Great final session of the day.

-neil

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About nosnhojn

I have been working in ASIC and FPGA development for more than 12 years at various IP and product development companies and now as a consultant with XtremeEDA Corp. My specialty for most of that time has been RTL functional verification where I have had a chance to work with some very experienced people and learn state of the art techniques. I really enjoy the challenges of being a verification engineer but as of late have come to wonder what lies beyond my verification bubble. That's lead me to agile software development and project management. There is a massive amount of material out there related to agile development. All of it is interesting and most of it should be applicable to hardware development in one form or another. So I'm here to find what agile concepts will work for hardware development and to help other developers use them successfully! You can find me at neil.johnson@agilesoc.com.
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One Response to Agile2011 Round-up: Day 3

  1. Neil, you did a great job. Also you work and mission were confirmed by an attendee who’s had his development organization using agile approaches to HW, SW, ASIC development and tells how it has saved thier organization. Paraphrasing: “We’ve been doing this for three years. I could not stop the people from using agile if I wanted to.” Keep up the good and important work!

    James

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