Monday, March 30, 2009

Are you interested in Agile and UX together...

With 341 bloggers posting on PlanetLotus, sometimes you miss something. I'd previously missed Chris Recklings older post about Design@IBM. However, I did see his recent post about the UXDesignCast, which led me to discover the team talking about Optimized Agile Design in one session. I also found the new article An Agile Approach to User Experience and Design on the Design@IBM website.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Domino Unit Framework Q&A - Part 1

Here are some questions about using 'Domino Unit Framework' that have ended up in my inbox recently. So that everyone who uses it (all two of you) get the benefit I've posted them here and cross linked to the OpenNTF project. Excuse the poor English in the questions, they are coming from Karnataka in Banglore and English isn't the first language.

Question 1.

"So now my query is i need to get the document context of this..then only i
can test or compare or what ever it is..Can i run the tests of domino unit
frame work independently with out tieing to the Application data base."

Answer 1.

Yes, you can run the unit tests independent of the Domino Unit Framework database.

You will need to copy the Domino Unit Framework Script libraries into your application and build a place where you want to execute the tests (Agents, Action Buttons - Your choice). The results of the tests (pass/failures) are then sent to the domino unit framework database that you specify. You can send the documents to any database but you'll need to see the results.

Set OutputStream = New NotesDatabaseOutputStream(session, "", "DUFResults.nsf")

When you are migrating to production/uat, remove the script libraries and agents.

Question 2.

"Is there a way to test them independently with out tieing to application database is my Question or As per ur inputs is this only the best way to test.(copying)"

Answer 2.


It's a bit like trying to compile a java program and not having the jar file on the path....the database is the project, therefore - like jUnit you need to allow the objects that you are testing to be in scope.

Question 3.

"I don't find any assertion for comparing two arrays of type Variant..that is Variant array or list in Domino Unit Framework.Is there any solution for that or do we need to manually write some class for that in the script library."
I was trying to test two variant arrays,its saying failed(As no case is available as such) even though both the variant arrays contains same values"

Answer 3.

Equality of Arrays, especially arrays of variants is particularly tricky - mostly because the rules of equality can vary, and there is a large combination of possible rules that may or may not be relevant in your particular instance. Is order important for equality ? or perhaps number of elements ?

Therefore, asserting equality between arrays (and arrays of variants) is not (and perhaps never will be) included in Domino Unit Framework.

My suggestions is to either write your own custom assertions as you have access to the source code, or unit test at the array element like so;

Call Test101.AssertEqual(array_a(0),array)b(0))

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Scius PDF library - what is in the next version.

Would you like to know what is in the next release of the Scius PDF library ?

1. Changing the page orientation on the fly,
2. Inline images that you can scale,
3. Bullet lists.

The code has been written and I'm using it, but the release is not done. That is, I haven't met my personal 'definition of done', which include examples and documentation.

I've been a bit busy of late and getting it ready has fallen down the backlog.

Dojo Drawing Tools and Charting

Do you want to know more about dojo drawing tools and charting. See this article, a reprint from the Linux Journal.

Dojo, Now with Drawing Tools.

The article has a fairly detailed explanation of the dojo gfx library and a preview of the charting API.

Monday, March 16, 2009

An introduction to Scrum (plus some interesting case studies)

Here is a link to a 14 page Scrum Guide and some case studies (via for those interested.


This guide explains how to use Scrum to build products. In doing so, it will describe how the framework and its artifacts, time-boxes, roles and rules work together. Scrum does not include techniques and processes for building products; however, it will point out the efficacy and flaws of these techniques and processes.

Scrum is a framework for developing complex products and systems. It is grounded in empirical process control theory*. Scrum employs an iterative, incremental approach to optimize predictability and control risk. Within each iteration, Scrum employs self-organizing, cross functional Teams to optimize flexibility and productivity.

Have a look at some of the case studies that were presented at the 2009 Scrum Gathering (in Orlando, FL.). It makes for some interesting reading.

Case Studies:

Scrum But
Scrum Games
Bootstrapping Scrum

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Agile what is it and should I care ?

Chris has cajoled me into posting this, its been in draft for ages. I've been trying to work out if this is relevant and useful to the Lotus community, or am I the only one interested in this stuff.

I've been learning as much as I can about Agile and, in particular, Scrum. I'm a certified project manager (based on PMBok), so I was interested to understand the implications of managing software projects in an Agile way. Did I need to throw away all I knew about the PMBok. How do you manage the same things that the stakeholders need to know about risks, schedule and budget but in the Agile way.

I am also interested to find out how others tackle software development in the context of the Lotus platform. It doesn't seem to be a topic that is talked about much within our community.

There is a rising ground swell of interest and adoption of Agile software development, which is gaining credibility. Agile is now a widely accepted and valid method for managing software development. IBM Lotus Software Group and the Lotus Notes Development Team are using Agile and the fourth edition of the PMBok guide is being influenced by agile projects.

Should the Lotus community be interested ?

Is Agile (and Scrum) something that, as professional software developers, we should be interested in ? or interested enough to find out more ? We take toolkits and ideas from other technology areas and reuse them for our own purpose, so why not a development method ?

I don't need Agile, I'm using a RAD tool.

Lotus Notes has always been on the agile side of the spectrum and is often referred to a rapid application development (RAD) environment. Of course, just because you are using a RAD tool does not necessarily mean that you are developing software in a RAD way. In the same way that you can still write Java code in a procedural way and shun any form of Object Oriented techniques. I've seen the waterfall, big document up front, approach for Notes development and you end up spending more time on the document than actually writing the software.

For me developing solutions in Notes has been somewhat Agile. I started with Joint Application Design (JAD) and then Accelerate Value Method (AVM). AVM, for those who have not heard of it, was the Lotus consulting methodology from 1995 which embraced a collaborative development style with stakeholders and team. The aim was also to deliver value to the customer at the earliest opportunity through short iterations.

In fact if you did business with Lotus Consulting in Australia you would have come across a project flexibility matrix in our statements of work. I saw the same matrix recently while reading 'The Software Project Managers bridge to Agility'. We even used a documentation formatting methodology that favoured brevity and efficiency in communications.

So why should I care if I'm using Agile or Scrum ?

Simply, it gives you a common language that you can talk to other developers, clients and managers when they ask what is it that you are doing. You can point to a wealth of credible experience online and in books and say, yes we are using a software development methodology. A methodology favoured by highly respected experts, and by the way, they have produced high quality software that the users want quicker. Make no mistake, there are pit falls and traps which you will need to look out for. You will also need to assess if your team and organistion is ready and willing to try Agile.

There are also lot if misconceptions around Agile methods that have the potential to strike fear into managers and the PMO alike. "No documentation", "you'll get it when you get it" and "Agile doesn't scale" are some of the common ones. If you take the time to understand, like I have recently, you will realise that Agile has structure for dealing with the processes and disciplines that the PMBok describe. The PMBok is very general and, as the title describes, and only provides a guide to manage projects from building bridges to software development. Agile fills in the 'how' for software development and so the two can exist happily together.

I really would like to use Agile, how can I explain the benefits between Agile and Waterfall in a simple way ?

I recently attended the Sydney Scrum User Group and we worked through an exercise, which was an analogy for one of the difference between a waterfall approach and a scrum/agile approach. Rather than pinch the idea, here is my contrived story to explain the difference. Think of sandwiches in terms of software features, and a tray as a release or increment, and it might all make sense - then again maybe not.

Scenario 1. Making sandwiches the waterfall way.

Customer sends a fax at 9:00 am in the morning he needs vegemite sandwiches for 100 people for an event at lunch. Deliver to the office at 11:30.

You get a production line started, one person buttering and spreading the vegemite, the next person slicing and arranging on a platter. By 10:30 you've spread 75 sandwiches with vegemite, when the customer calls in to check on progress.

The customer suddenly remembers that, not everyone likes vegemite. So ask for half to be roast beef. Rather than 25 vegemite sandwiches end up in the bin the client agree to increase his order by 25 sandwiches to get the 50 roast beef sandwiches.

User Acceptance.
You turn up at the customers office, he looks at the platter and it looks a little plain then remembers that he has some vegetarians turning up who don't like vegemite! You quickly call the guys at the cafe and get them to quickly make another 25 sandwiches, this time cucumber.

Sign Off.
The customer is happy, but it cost him 150 sandwiches and you've expended 150 sandwich making effort. There is only 100 people so there is a lot of sandwiches left over that are not used.

Scenario 2. Making sandwiches the agile way.

Sometime later the same customer faxes another order, this time you try a different approach.
You invite him to come to the cafe and tell him he can use the wi-fi and he'll get a coffee on the house while he waits. You sit down with him and ask your usual catering questions. How many people ? are there any vegetarians ? The barista overhears - and suggests that to cater for vegans and wheat intolerance and through your many years of experience you estimate that 75 sandwiches should be enough for 100 people.

You start making sandwiches one at a time. As each tray of sandwiches is made you show the customer. You have made 50 sandwiches (two trays). When you overhear the customer exclaim - bugger!

He's just got an email. The meeting has been rescheduled until the afternoon. You suggest to him that for an afternoon meeting cakes might be more appropriate and so decide that 50 sandwiches and 25 cakes would be plenty. You stop making any more sandwiches and the and start slicing cake.

User Acceptance
The customer has seen the first tray of sandwiches as they have been made. He quickly checks the cakes as they are being arrange - all is looking good.

Sign Off. The customer is happy and pays. You suggest that he takes one tray of sandwiches to put in the fridge on the off chance that some of the attendees didn't get the rescheduled meeting notice. After all they are already made - he might as well take them.

Let me explain the difference

Scenario 1 - the customer didn't really understand what he wanted until he started thinking more about his needs when he saw the entire finished platter. He ended up with more food than he actually needed and there was a certain amount of waste. The sandwiches were all produced in great big block so there is little flexibility in changing the fillings during the making of the platter.

Scenario 2 - the customer also did not understand what he wanted, but as he was available in the coffee shop he could actively participate and give the sandwich makes feedback as his requirements changed, like when the meeting was rescheduled. There was little to no waste in the construction and as the platter was made in smaller, fully complete, chunks. In fact, so complete that the customer could actually take part of the order with him and realise that value earlier.


You can see for the examples that when the customer is involved more closely with the production of the sandwiches that the whole team is more able to quickly adapt to the changing situation. Have smaller, fully complete, increments allowed for the customer to start using the end product quicker. The customer only paid for what he actually needed.

The trade off.

The customer/product owner has to commit to spend time working with the team. If the product owner, the person with ultimate responsibility to steer the results of the software development effort, doesn't have the time or inclination to work in an agile way then waterfall my still be the most appropriate method for your situation.

There is a lot more to agile than one post. Hopefully this post has given you a small insight and taster into Agile. Let me leave you with one last thought.

Image you have two project, one waterfall and one agile. Imagine a time of economic uncertainty. Imagine both projects are canceled half way through. Which project will be able deliver value to the customer in the form of working software.

Answers on a postcard...(or comments)