Tag Archives: Game

Talk: Wildcard Conference 2013 – Sherlock Holmes and Pairing

Even Sherlock Holmes was pairing. Are you? Let’s find some good practices in the talk below about Sherlock Holmes and Pairing!

During my work I am used to pair with my colleagues on basically anything. I do pair-programming when I develop software, we use pairing when we deliver trainings or when we write articles. I often do remote pair-programming with strangers. The most things I learned during the last years were by working in pair with someone I barely knew.
Pairing for me has the following main advantages:
– I learn a lot from my pair
– I extend my comfort zone and I collaborate better with anyone
– the product we work together is a lot better because four eyes are better than two

Please find examples from the activities of the well-known fictional character Sherlock Holmes on how his pair Dr. Watson helps him become better and finding the answer to their riddles.

 

 
And here are the slides for the talk Sherlock Holmes and Pairing

Coding Games – video at xALEc

Coding games

This is a video from xALEc where I am part of a conversation about how one could teach programmers to be better by using games and pair-programming.

Pair-programming game: Farsight Navigator

Farsight Navigator

Blog post series

This blog post is part of a series about pair-programming games. To read about more please click see more sessions on pair-programming games.

Purposes:

  • Make experienced navigators become better
  • Focus on long-term design decisions
  • Create design incrementally
  • Teach others how short-time design decisions can affect the design on the long term

Concept

Both the driver and the navigator need to know very clear which is the purpose, the destination, of their current code writing process. This concept works extremely well if you are doing Test Driven Development and you want to produce design incrementally.

The roles of the development are very well separated:

  • the driver is not allowed to think too much ahead
  • the navigator is not allowed to say anything about the implementation details unless some decisions would drive them out of their course.
  • in the case of conflict they need to stop and decide together which is the best approach

The driver

  • needs to focus only on the small implementation details.
  • will write code in small batches of maximum 5 minutes and will make sure the code is functioning well

The navigator

  • needs to see how the code will develop on the long run
  • if the driver tries to think too much ahead, the navigator needs to ask him questions until the driver understands why that decision is a bad one.
  • needs to be a very experienced person in programming and in software design
  • needs to keep their calm and explain always the objections to some path
Farsight Navigator

Farsight Navigator

Option
If you want to have an easier far-sight navigator session think to do a session of behavior slicing, value sampling and then order the resulting behaviors from simple to complicated. This activity will give you a first list of tests you need to implement. This list is just a temporary list, as some tests might be split, some new ones might appear or some of them might need to be discarded.

Outcomes

In the case of a problem where we cannot really know how to proceed we can apply this technique in production. If done well, we will have the simplest design possible, custom created for the problem we want to solve. We will write the minimum amount of code, but further we will minimize our possible design mistakes by focusing more on the design than usually.

This technique prevents us from doing mistakes that are hard to repair afterwards. You might say that you are doing TDD with special focus on long-term design decisions.

Whenever I used this technique, the efficiency of reaching a solution was astonishing from both the time spent and the quality of the solution point of views.

Remarks

This is the hardest pair-programming game I know. The purpose of this game is to make experienced navigators become better. I would recommend this only after at least 6 months to one year of continuous pairing from both of the pairs.

Have you read Dune by Frank Herbert? If you did not please read it because I guess you will like it. If you did read it, then you might remember the Spacing Guild and how they could guide the space ships by their special skills and protect them from danger. In the case of this game our navigator is like a Guild Navigator from Dune.

The navigator needs to  have special skills of pairing, programming, is extremely experienced in software design and is a very good communicator.

When will become a navigator with a far-sight?

Image credit: http://dictionaryproject.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/compass.jpg

Pair-programming game: Yes, and…

Yes, and…

Blog post series

This blog post is part of a series about pair-programming games. To read about more please click see more sessions on pair-programming games.

Purposes:

  • Make the team members that always disagree try to build up on top of the ideas already presented.
  • Some members of your team are very stubborn and you want to show them that there could be other solutions than their own.
  • You want to improve solutions immediately when you see a smaller or larger improvement option.
  • You want beginners to feel they add value when pairing with more experienced people.

Concept

When working in pairs none of the pairs is allowed to delete the code of the other person. We are looking for a common solution, that both of the pairs will agree.

Why? Often I see that the more experienced programmers drive and give their solution as the best one (and sometimes as the only one). But even if you are not experienced, either with the specific language or framework or generally, you might have some good ideas for making the current solution better. In order to work on that attitude you can do ping-pong pairing with the rules Yes, and…

So the rules are:

  • none of the pairs can delete the code of the other.
  • at each step when switching from driver to navigator one needs to improve the existing solution and tests.
  • whenever one of the pairs tries to delete the code, the other needs to say “You should improve the existing one. Please go back and say Yes, and… I will do…“.
  • none of the pairs are not allowed to be angry on this request of not deleting code.
  • only unused code can be deleted, like for example after refactoring the code is not used any more. Both of the pairs must agree that the code can be deleted.

Sessions on this topic should be short, around 30-60 minutes. The first sessions should be supervised by a coach who will make sure the rules are understood and well respected. These sessions might become tiring, so make sure you choose a period of the day when you do not have other hard things to tackle.

Yes, and

Yes, and

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Pair-programming game: Beginner’s Mind

Beginner’s Mind

Blog post series

This blog post is part of a series about pair-programming games. To read about more please click see more sessions on pair-programming games.

Purposes:

  • You have very stubborn programmers in your team and you want to make his views softer.
  • To any problem, your team says there is only one solution, and that is their solution. You want to let them see there are always alternate solutions, which sometimes are better.
  • You had issues in the past with architectural or design decisions, just because the problem was not understood sufficiently.

Concept

A very experienced and neutral person, ideally an external technical coach, will pair with the team members one by one.
The rules are that:

  • the team member will be the driver
  • the technical coach will be the navigator
  • the technical coach is allowed to always ask beginner, even basic and stupid questions like “what are you doing”, “why are you doing this”, “tell me what is happening in this code”
  • the driver is not allowed to be angry by the beginner questions of the technical coach; the driver needs to always explain what is their current idea, how they can implement it and why they chose this path.

These sessions should have a specific, very clear topic. The technical coach needs to make sure that each member of the team understood the purpose.
The pair-programming session should not last more than 30-60 minutes as it is very tiring for both of the performers.

Beginner's mind

Beginner’s mind

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Pair-programming game: Silent Programming

Silent Programming

Blog post series

This blog post is part of a series about pair-programming games. To read about more please click see more sessions on pair-programming games.

Purposes:

  • Useful when you have talkative people in your team that do not agree or agree but do not write enough code for one task.
  • The code is not easy to read

Concept

The two programmers are not allowed to talk.
All the communication is made through code.
They are not allowed to use paper or write comments in the code or other files.

Silent Programming

Silent Programming

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Pair-programming game: ping-pong

Ping Pong Pair Programming

Blog post series

This blog post is part of a series about pair-programming games. To read about more please click see more sessions on pair-programming games.

Purposes

  • Learn pair-programming easier
  • Force the “know-it-all” programmer to see other ways of writing code
  • Force the “know-it-all” programmer to collaborate more
  • Push for collective code ownership

Concept

The roles driver and navigator change often inside the pair.
This activity is like a game of ping-pong of the roles between the two members of the pair. They both can take short time decisions while being a driver and can spot strategic design decisions while being a navigator.
Refactoring can be made by any of the programmers on their turn, but only when the code and the tests are stable.

ping-pong

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Brutal Refactoring Game

Brutal Refactoring Game

I wrote a post on the history of Brutal Refactoring Game, you can read it here.

In this blog post I want to tell you more about the workshop and about my experiences while facilitating it. Also I will add some tips for facilitators that want to try themselves this workshop.

The purpose of this workshop is learn what refactoring is, why it is so important to do refactoring often and immediately after you spot some coding smells. Often I ask programmers “when are you doing refactoring?”. The question has a vast number of answers from “when I think I need to”, to “once a month” to something like “every couple of tests”. But seldom I hear that programmers do refactoring all the time, in the minute the tests had passed from red to green”. This is where the format comes into place.

Brutal Refactoring Game

Brutal Refactoring Game

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The history of “Brutal Refactoring Game”

The history of Brutal Refactoring Game

Last year I was thinking about a session during which attendees would learn how to focus on refactoring. I had some thoughts about this: we would need a list of coding smells, and have some cards to give the attendees that had that coding smells in their code. Now the obvious question was: how can you have coding smells if you do not have a code base? I thought about it, and then I figured it out: during coderetreats I anyway see legacy code after 10-15 minutes. So if this session would take 90-120 minutes we would have no issue with finding coding smells.

The first thing was: of course I will ask people to do pair-programming. This is how you learn a lot!

I came with these basic thoughts to Alex, and we had a chat about this session. Initially I had wanted to print one index card for each of the coding smells. But Alex helped me simplify the concept by creating a numbered list of coding smells that would be projected on a screen. Then we thought: we could use index cards just to write the number of the coding smell.

Refactor your code commrades or it s the gulags for you

Now the question was: how do we do this? How can we enforce the coding smells? We thought about it and we said “we love clean code, so we could be something like a dictator”. Then we both had in mind the concept of “Benevolent Dictator“. The sessions was starting to shape-up. The benevolent dictator was a key factor in the environment we wanted to create: learn and play.

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