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Git Introduction January 2015

Paul Williams presenting Git.

Paul Williams gave a great introduction to the group on version control basics with Git

There was a great vibe this January; our first meeting of 2015. Paul Williams opened the year with a great session introducing Git. The session served as a useful introduction to those new to Git as a version control mechanism and incorporated rebasing techniques for those with intermediate skills. We experienced a wide spread of issues related to version control; what else would you expect with up to 20 people trying to do the initial commit? We also had a sneak peak how others are using Git in professional ventures. It was a great fun! Agile Staffordshire enjoyed an enthusiastic turnout; it was lovely to see everyone. Thank you, Paul.

The session provoked some good discussion and even set the scene for our first quarter topics. In March 2015, Agile Staffordshire will hold a session on Vi (the editor that appeared mercilessly upon commits) and more advanced Git techniques in April 2015. February’s session will focus on project management, with a specific discussion on Kanban in relation to software development. Keep watching our blog for upcoming events or join our meet-up group.

Group working at Agile Staffs January 2015

Ad-hoc team trying to commit to repositories in ad-hoc ways! What could go wrong? Not much really!

Enjoying Git session - January 2015.

It’s amazing how a bit of Git can make people smile.

I would like to add special thanks to Staffordshire University for hosting our event and providing wireless Internet connectivity throughout the session. Super stuff! Another special mention to Mel for taking photographs!

F# and Functional Programming Wrap-up

Agile Staffordshire were fortunate to have Ian Russell talk to us about functional programming. Ian’s session on functional programming really got us fired up with something new. I was swept away with Ian’s abundant enthusiasm for the discipline; thank you, Ian! If you get the chance to meet Ian and discuss F#, I think you’d be wise to do so.

I find being a novice entirely satisfying. I really enjoy picking up a new language and playing with it. Every single breakthrough changes your world and feels like a giant leap in understanding. I believe to be quite addictive. I know some members of the group have had some experience with functional-first programming languages and felt obviously at ease with the differences to our usual weapon of choice – object oriented programming. Others were like me, arriving at the subject without any information. I know it is good to have a fresh perspective, but sometimes I think we need to organise sessions to develop fresh perspectives more often. There’s a big difference between appreciating other perspectives and having them. I left the session with a buzz, eager to figure out how I could use the material and make something real!

I look forward to our August session – The Gilded Rose kata. I apologise for tardiness of this follow-up post. I’ve been working (with agility) on getting my house to stop leaking into itself – it has been one of those months!


June 2014 – Is TDD Dead?

Is TDD Dead?

Here lies TDD…

Date: Thursday 26th June 2014
Time: 19:00
Venue: Staffordshire University – Stafford Campus (Octagon building, K102)

Fear not, TDD is not dead, although it’s certainly been talked to death this month. This catchy title has been doing the rounds on the web recently since the Kent Beck + Martin Fowler + David Heinemeier Hansson talks. This month we are going to take a look at it ourselves, try out some different approaches and share our experiences.

For me it all started about 2 months ago when I watched Ian Cooper’s talk on TDD, Where did it all go wrong. I’ve been told over and over, that unit testing gives you the freedom to change code with the safety of maintaining functionality for the customer. So refactoring is the process of changing code without changing functionality, and those like Kent Beck would advocate your test suites allow you to safety refactor to design patterns as they emerge in the system. Yet this video struck a chord, I struggle to refactor code without breaking tests, and so lose confidence that the functionality is unchanged as the tests are now different.  Ian’s video addresses these points by highlighting different approaches and definitions to unit testing, and asks is the way some of use do TDD slowing us down.

We are going to explore this issue by scratching an itch many of you had during last months lean coding challenge, Refactoring! After a quick summary of Ian’s video, we are going to pair up and refactor a completed C# implementation of last months Checkout Code Challenge. It will be covered by two test suites. One set focusing on implementation per method and another suite on behaviour of the system. After an hour of coding we will break for a retrospective to find out how everyone’s refactoring was influenced by the different test suites, the advantages each way of testing has to offer and insights into TDD for agile development.

As we’re going to be writing code in C#, bring your laptop with visual studio set up – Project Code on GitHub

If you’re interested, please sign up on

See you there!

Jon Willis

May 2014 – Lean Code Challenge

Date: Thursday 29th May 2014
Time: 19:00
Venue: Staffordshire University – Stafford Campus (Octagon building, K102)

For this month’s session, we’ve decided to re-run the Lean Code Challenge that was run back in July 2011. The format is quite simple – Paul will introduce 7 key Lean Software principles and their importance in software development. Following this, the code challenge will take an hour, although being split into six iterations, it really is fast and furious. Finally we will have a little retrospective about the challenge and what people have learnt.

As we’re going to be writing code, bring a laptop with your favourite language / IDE / compilers.

If you’re interested, please sign up on


Lego Robots

Date: Thursday 27th February 2014
Time: 7:00pm
Venue: Staffordshire University – Stafford Campus (Octagon building, K102)

This month, LEGO ROBOTS! Andrew Seward (@MrAndrew) will show us how to bring together as one the two higher art forms of programming and Lego – an overview of what’s involved and why it’s such a great idea, and then we’ll get the chance to build and program a Lego robot of our own!

Review: Brooklyn Beta and Maintainable C

Brooklyn Beta

A big thank you  to Trevor for sharing his brilliant talk on experiences at Brooklyn Beta earlier this year, which focused on web platforms delivering. It is really encouraging to see the move towards organisations exposing data allowing the creation of business that can deliver the real value of that data by matching the needs of those in the community. The event is highly recommended with further details on Trevor’s Blog, so if your interested in attending next year, watch out for details here  –

Maintainable C

We then moved onto Trevor’s C code used for stenography and discussed how it can be tested. The ideas presented for testing involved simple regression tests to ensure it was functionally working using shell scripts, then work on breaking down the single function into logical methods/applications that are effectively unit tested. You can contribute to the project at Trevor’s repository.


I’ll be sure to get a link up for the slides from Trevor shortly.

It was good to see new faces, and thanks to everyone for attending.

Next Month

The provisional date for next month is 17th December at Morris Man for the annual Agile Staffordshire Christmas Meal.


November 2013 – Brooklyn Beta and Testing with C

Date: Thursday 28th November 2013
Time: 7:00pm
Venue: Staffordshire University – Stafford Campus (K102 – the Octagon building)

Brooklyn Beta is a friendly web conference aimed at the “work hard and be nice to people” crowd. Trevor Adams, a long time member of Agile Staffordshire, attended the event and will be presenting a short talk on what happened and what it might mean. The fourth Brooklyn Beta happened during 9-11th October 2013 in Brooklyn, New York.

Later in the session we shall be refactoring some C code; an exercise that grew from a post-presentation discussion in October. To get the most out of the session, access to a C compiler will be useful. The code is available via a github repository.

Last month’s agile experience session with Craig Judson

Firstly, I’d like to thank Craig for an excellent October session on Codeweaver’s experiences with agile. It was our first session in a Staffordshire University lecture theatre so well done Craig for dealing with such an imposing stage, especially with the growing number of attendees 🙂

It was good to see this increase in newcomers and regulars – surely due to the combination of the interesting presentation, Cathy’s excellent work on publicising our group around the University and the site attracting newcomers.

Back to Craig’s talk (Development in an Agile Environment -slides) – he briefly covered the Chaos to Kanban era at Codeweavers which saw their development team and wider organisation transistion towards Lean service provision. Craig discussed their popular introduction to agile through Scrum, how using an agile coach (Kevin Rutherford) helped, and how agile means change to all stakeholders within an organisation. In particular, he introduced many to concepts like ‘work in progress’, ‘flow’, ‘feature switches’ and ‘SOLID principles’ which fuelled a healthy barrage of questions at the end.

9PM came too quickly, and the questions had to be interrupted temporarily while we walked / drove to  the Morris Man pub. On completion of the traditional ale purchasing, the questions and discussions continued for some time – another great Agile Staffs session.



October 2013 – Agile Experience Guest Speaker

Go to Codeweavers

Date: Wednesday 30th October 2013
Time: 7:00pm
Venue: Staffordshire University – Stafford Campus (Lecture Theatre 2 – the Octagon building)

This month we welcome Mr Craig Judson from Codeweavers Limited. Codeweavers are a local company, based just outside Stafford in Dunston. They adopted agile techniques in 2007, starting with Scrum and have continued to evolve their agile techniques ever since.

Following graduation from Staffordshire University School of Computing, in 2006, Craig joined Codeweavers as a developer and has since progressed to become an Operations manager. He has previously spoken at international conferences and BCS meetings.

Craig’s talk will discuss how Codeweavers have adapted agile techniques to fit their requirements. A taste of the topics covered are:

  • OO and behaviour
  • Code smells and ‘if’ statements
  • Continuous Integration and Source Control
  • Pair Programming and the Pragmatic Programer
  • Kanban and Single Piece Flow
  • University is only the first step!

As I’m sure you’ll agree, some of the topics could be controversial! Come along and see a hands on report.

Hope to see you there,

September 2013 – Retrospective

Click for full size

Mind Map (click for full size)

Following some discussion on the Google Groups, and offline, we decided to do an ad-hoc group retrospective during Septembers meet up. We didn’t follow the normal retro questions – what’s gone well, what can be improved etc.

Rather, we brainstormed future session ideas, tabled the possibility of changing venues. We’ve been challenged on how to attract new members and speakers and pondered the symbiotic relationships between them.

We’re currently moving all the great ideas from a mind map into two Trello hosted kanban boards. The key areas discovered were future sessions and marketing – you will find a board for each area. If you would like to contribute to the boards, simply let myself or Neil know your Trello username and you’ll be added.

In particular, we’re moving back to basics with subject matter – more TDD, more pairing. In particular, more sessions on experiences – how agile does / doesn’t work. However learning evolves etc. Also, more lightning talks etc to promote collaboration and introducing new ideas.

As a tactical move to promote Agile Staffordshire at other community events, Neil and myself are sorting t-shirts to wear at Software Craftsmanship. Neil – order me a large!!

Finally we plan to get blog posts out earlier, with a session follow up post each month followed soon after by a post promoting the next session. We need to increase the volume and always welcome new members.


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