Getting A Little Agile

My manager Mark and I left the Domaintools office around noon and drove to Portland, Oregon. It was about a three hour journey. Our little company had (or has) a tiny stake in AboutUs.org and with that we were able to get some face time with the developers here. They’re a Ruby on Rails shop and have a huge benefit of having one of Agile’s biggest proponents working for them. Their offices are located on the fifth floor of a cannery converted into trendy, industrial styled offices filled with several stories of small businesses. Looking out the windows you see a big part of the Eastern side of Portland and the Columbia River.

Talking with Ward Cunningham is like talking to a great mentor or a professor.

The amount of knowledge and information to learn is staggering and awesome. At ArenaNet I ran into a couple people like this. Pat Wyatt, for example. It’s simply fantastic to have people in your career who can share with you tomes of experience, advice, and direction. I soak this up like a sponge. I hope I can always be humble and continue to get better and more able as a developer.

Back to the “exchange”, we had a chance to observe several processes. Paired programming, task planning and estimation, and task tracking. I think there was a lot to learn here. There are definitely some differences between our shops. Their code is cleaner and more easily adaptable to rapid change. Their managers all the way to the developers have bought on to a process involving open and constant communication. The deadlines are the end of sprints but even they aren’t concrete. It was good to interface and learn some ideas about development. Tomorrow we’ll be doing some more.

Portland is a nice city. The architecture is clean and the lines interesting. It’s level and it’s easy to access. I really like it here. We are staying at the Hotel Vintage Plaza. It’s an okay pad. Trendy and right in downtown. My first complaint is that the water pressure is really low.  The most amazing book store I have ever been to is right here in Portland called Powell’s. Nothing, as far as I know, comes close to the amazingness of this store in Western Washington.

Dinner was at Deschute’s Brewery Pub which was very good. I had a rib eye steak that was grilled nicely and had a layer of BBQ sauce and blue cheese on top. Very tasty indeed. If you ever go there make sure you get the pretzel with cheese. I thought it was amazing. Mark enjoyed it and so did our two guests.

Tomorrow we go in for round two with our hosts to see planning and some more processes. After that I’d like to swing by Powell’s again and check out their technical branch filled with technical books and stuff.

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