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Whats Happening with the AAFTT and Entaggle
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Interview with Elisabeth Hendrickson by Shane Hastie on Sep 30, 2011 |
14:14

Bio Elisabeth Hendrickson is the founder and president of Quality Tree Software, Inc., a consulting and training company dedicated to helping software teams deliver working solutions consistently and sustainably. She is an organizer of the Agile Alliance Functional Testing Tools program (AAFTT)and has created Entaggle, a community-based site for giving and getting professional recognition.

The Agile Alliance organizes the Agile series conference, which bring together all the key people in the Agile space to talk about techniques and technologies, attitudes and policies, research and experience, and the management and development sides of agile software development.

   

1. I am Shane Hastie and I am here at Agile 2011 with Elisabeth Hendrickson. Thank you for taking the time to come and talk to us. You and I know each other fairly well and I am sure a lot about you I know you or know of you, but these are a whole lot there that don’t, so would you mind introducing yourself?

Sure. Hello. I am Elisabeth Hendrickson. I am founder of Quality Tree Software, I am an Agile testing consultant, I help organizations who are transitioning to Agile figure out how to incorporate this testing stuff and then particular if they have Q&A departments before figure out how that kind of testing fits into Agile.

   

3. You were recognized by the community for your contribution. Why?

That is a really good question. There is a little blurb about me on the Agile Alliance website that says: "Essentially we recognized her because she does so much". It was not so much: "She is so involved in the community", that would have been lovely, but it actually says: "It’s because there are so many things she does" and so I actually think that it was a tribute to my attention deficit disorder.

   

4. Yes and no. You contribute fantastically to all sorts of things in the community. One of the areas that I’d like to quickly chat about is the Agile Alliance Functional Testing Tools group?

I am sorry for the name, it’s partly my fault it’s the Agile functional testing tools program; we are a program of the Agile Alliance. The chair of the program is Junita Andrea and I’d like to say that I’m just Junita’s minion, but she gets upset with me when I say that.

The intent of the program is to advance the state of the art and the state of the practice for functional testing tools that support Agile teams, because at the time we started it, 5 years now - it’s been going on for a while. At the time that we started it there were tools out there that worked for Agile, however the tool makers weren’t really collaborating on making the tools better. There were little individual pockets of tools, plus the tools themselves really hadn’t matured yet, to where they are today and consequently a lot of Agile teams weren’t quite sure what kind of tool to adopt and so we saw so many improvements in the code facing tools, the X-unit suits, and JBehave (I think had came out at that point), the BDD style Unit Testing level tools and we just saw that there were so much more that we could be doing with functional level of testing.

   

5. What are some of the things that have come out of that program?

It’s one of those things where we debated about how to run this program and we decided to make it a very community oriented thing where we would fulfill our mission by making connections within the community and because it’s such a fuzzy thing it’s hard to know what actually came out, so I was so excited at this last meeting. We just had a meeting last Sunday and Richard Laurence told me something that I hadn’t known. He said that Cuke for Nuke which is the original .NET port of Cucumber that that came directly out of one of our meetings, because he was inspired to write that port as a result of one of the meetings that we held and since then apparently that was kind of superseded by SpecFlow.

But what happened at this meeting then was Richard Laurence got together with the folks who had done SpecFlow to figure out how to merge features and so the stuff that is coming out of it really is connections, more than actual advances in the tools, but the connections are facilitating the advancement in the tools and it is so exciting.

   

6. And this is engaging the tool vendors, the open source community and the Agile testing community?

Yes, we are not seeing as many tool vendors as at least I expected to see. We had a bunch of the tool vendors on the mail list, but we’re only seeing a few of them come to the workshops and so, so the Thoughtworks folks with Twist are coming to the workshops. I haven’t seen too many of the other vendors, a few, I want to be fair to the vendors because they are showing up, but we’re seeing so much involvement from both the users and the creators of the open source stuff.

   

7. And where is the AAFTT heading, where next?

Our latest initiative is working on what we refer to as our pattern initiative; because one of the things that we’ve realized is that the tools have reached a level of maturity where they really support Agile teams very well in many cases. There is still room for growth, so it’s not like any of us think: "It’s all perfect and it’s all unicorns and rainbows and we don’t need any more improvements in the tools."

However the real limiting factor now for most teams seams to be the practices itself, so acceptance test driven development or story testing or whatever you choose to call this thing that is one of the hardest practices for Agile teams to adopt and having recognized that Junita and I got together with Linda Rising, as of last year, to talk about how patterns might be a way to communicate and share information about to how adopt ATDD, how to overcome some of the challenges that occur when you are doing ATDD and you’ve been doing it for a while so things like test suites get big and brittle and slow. So there are patterns for dealing with that, so we’ve come to realize that patters are a really good way to share knowledge and we’ve now got an initiative for that.

   

8. So with the recognition and understanding that there are patterns that can be applied and that there are out there, how are you sharing that information with the community? Where do people go to find that stuff?

We have a WiKi (and I don’t have the web address in my brain right now) where we are slowly building out this pattern language and one of the things that we discovered when we held the workshop for the pattern writing earlier this year in April, I think, in California, I had the blinding flash of realization that most of our patterns are going to be pointer to material that already exists, because so much has already been written.

Gerard Meszaros wrote an entire book on XUnit Testing patterns (http://www.amazon.com/xUnit-Test-Patterns-Refactoring-Code/dp/0131495054) and so many of ther patterns that he talks about there actually apply in this phase as well and so rather than rewriting Gerard’s book it makes so much more sense to say if you are hitting stuff like this, go look at this resource and then there is so many other places to find information, but what we’re lacking is a central index that tells people: "Where do I start, how do I make it through all the various literature, what is a good path through the literature to help me answer my questions".

[Editor's note: The WiKi Address is http://aaftt.agilealliance.org:8080/display/AAFTT/]

   

9. Great. And going on from that to the broader Agile testing community, what is happening there?

So many more people are coming to the Agile testing communities, so for a long time back at the beginning it was like Lisa Crispin, Janet Gregory, me, a few other people (it’s embarrassing that I am blanking their names right now, so if it’s one of you I’m really sorry I forgot you and I apologize). But there were not that many of us and at the first Agile Conference I went to I kind of felt like I’d snuck in the door because I was so accustomed to those silos between testers and developers and the very early Agile Conferences were very developer centric.

And these days there are so many people both who have a originally self identified as developers who are now self identifying as test obsessed developers, or tester developer, developer tester, and so many people from the testing community who are recognizing the extent to which their skills come to play on Agile teams. So one that comes to mind, for example, is Lynette Creamer ; Matt Barcom was telling me about how Lynette, who speaks and writes about testing, had worked with him on a project as an exploratory tester and how great it was to work with her and she was so wonderful to work with, so she is now really coming in to being part of the Agile testing community. So people who self identify as being within that community it’s growing, it’s such a wonderful group of people.

   

10. And what are you doing now? You have the Agilistry studio. You want to tell us a bit about that?

Yes I have Agilistry studio, I opened that in January not of this year, but of the year prior and it is designed to be a practice space for where Agile software development, which mean we both host events there, like classes and stuff. We also host meet-ups there, so it’s an event space, it’s also a community gathering space for people in the Agile community and we also have been able to host working projects there for short durations, so it really is an ideal Agile team room. So that’s been going along great and it’s still going.

   

11. And the thing that you’ve been working on lately, when we spoke a year ago it was the project you weren’t telling anyone about which has now been launched: Entaggle Tell us about it.

The super-secret project not only launched, it’s got a logo. Entaggle (www.entaggle.com) is an online repository for giving and getting recognition and the intention was to create a mechanism for community based recognition for skills or achievements or awards of some kind but community based rather than authority based. That’s Entaggle in a nut-shell.

   

12. How does Entaggle work? What happens with it?

Well I could tag you, and in fact I think I have already tagged you, and all the tags on Entaggle were created by the community. So somebody created a "someone I know in person"tag. I don’t think I am the one who created it, but whoever created it made it a public tag so anyone could use it so I think I tagged you as someone I know in person. And I probably created a tag that is a private tag that only I, and I think I made it so Dale Emery and I can give this tag the "Test Obsessed" tag because that is my little thing.

I give people Test Obsessed bracelets and now I don’t have to ship them around the world, I can tag someone on this thing as test obsessed. I think I’ve probably tagged you as test obsessed. So all of the recognition is through this notion of tags.

   

13. The idea is that if I know you I can tag you and that adds your reputation I suppose in the Entaggle community and anyone else who wants to find out about you can look for you and will see this is what other people have tagged.

Yes, if you go to my profile on Entaggle (I need to do some performance optimization because my profile takes a little too long to load because there are so many tags), that’s what I get for having been the first Entaggle user. But yes, you can go see my profile, you don’t have to log in, you don’t even have to be a member to see a profile and that was one of the core design philosophies: I wanted everyone’s profile to be completely public. So that you could, let’s say I wanted to come work for you. You don’t have to sign up for this crazy Entaggle thing or even know what it is, but I could send you the URL. Say find me on Entaggle send you the URL and then you could see the people who have recommended me, the people who’ve said they know me, the people who’ve said they appreciate my work and that gives you a really good idea about who I am connected to in the community as well as the kinds of things that I’ve done before.

   

14. What makes this different from LinkedIn?

With LinkedIn one of my personal frustrations with LinkedIn is that I found that I pretty much have to log in to do just about anything. So with Entaggle I wanted to remove that garden wall notion, while still giving people the ability to control their online presence. So you don’t have to accept a tag if I give it to you. I also found that whenever people asked me for LinkedIn endorsements, I kind of cringed in the same way that I always feel very awkward when someone says: "Hey could you sign the group birthday card for Sally in Accounting", I never know quite what to say.

I might see Sally every single day and still not know what to write on her birthday card besides "Happy birthday!" So everyone of my LinkedIn endorsements kind of read like: "This is a great person, you should hire him"and it’s not very individualized. So the intend was to create something where it is very easy to recognize someone ,you can add a note, you don’t have to, you could tag them for multiple things, you could tag them for just one thing.

   

15. And the website is?

The website is: entaggle.com.

   

16. Thank you very much indeed. Before we wrap up what would you like to say to the community?

I hardly know what to say to the community other than: "Rock on!"

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