Back from CITCON Europe 2008 in Amsterdam

by olivier gaudin|

    Last week-end, we attended CITCON Europe 2008 in Amsterdam.

    We were really curious and impatient to discover the whole experience of technological OpenSpace: we were amazed to see how well it works and how things get organized quickly with so many people (>100). On Friday evening, anybody had a chance to propose a session on a topic, by announcing it to the audience and hanging a post-it on a board. We then voted for the topics we were interested in and since there were still numerous sessions, similar topics were regrouped : that was it for setting up the agenda ! On Saturday, there were 5 time slots of an hour each during which were running 6 sessions at the time.

    In terms of content, a lot of the sessions were about integration / system / user testing (Selenium, user automated testing, issue with databases during test periods, automated acceptance tests, ...). Unlike for unit testing, no standard neither consensus seems to really emerge on integration, functional, user interface tests. We had interesting discussions and knowledge sharing sessions, but the conclusion was that the testing strategy to be put in place is highly dependent on the project type and the context.As expected, almost every continuous integration engine was represented and we even got a quick demo of each (open source first, obviously !) : Build-o-matic, CruiseControl, Hudson, Cruise, Pulse, TeamCity and BuildForge.

    Talking about CI engines, we met Sherali from Atlassian, the company that develops Bamboo. We had a good time discussing software quality and talking about Atlassian's development in Europe.

    We had proposed a session around Source Code Quality inside Continuous Integration. Around 30 people showed up to participate to the session.

    We discussed source code quality as well as project metrics during the session. Participants had good experiences to share and ideas about how metrics could be improved. After some debate, we pretty much all agreed on some conclusions :

    • Showing good metrics does not prove that your project source code has a good quality
    • Showing bad metrics proves that your project has a bad quality
    • Before measuring any metrics, it is absolutely necessary to define your objectives

    The last session we attended was : "Is scrum evil ?". Interesting session, probably proposed as a provocation, that highlighted to me two remarkable things :

    • Whether they like scrum or hate scrum, people are passionate about scrum
    • Out of the 70 or 80 participants to the session, I would say that 30% were Certified Scrum Master (SCM)

    To wrap up, CITCON was a very good event, where participants were motivated, happy to share experience, to brainstorm and to debate. The technological open spaces are great. I think it could be an idea to split between more formal and open space sessions. The open space sessions would then be a natural follow-up to the more formal ones. We will find that out anyway during the Valtech Days 2008 happening in 2 weeks where we have been invited by Eric Lefevre.