SPA Conference session: Wolf Pack Programming™

One-line description:Explore the impact of real-time collaboration on Agile practices.
Session format: Working group (330 mins) [read about the different session types]
Abstract:The problem with Continuous Integration is that you still have to integrate. Pair Programming is also constrained: you can’t have more than two, you can’t have fewer than two, and actually you don’t quite have two. Maybe we can do better.

Using a dynamic language, it is possible to create an environment where we are no longer limited by the number of people who can comfortably fit around a single workstation. An entire team of programmers can collaborate simultaneously on the same live code base; they never need to integrate because they always are. In this hands-on workshop, we will borrow from the hunting strategies of wolves to take Extreme Programming practices and turn them all the way up to 11.

To facilitate the exercise, we will use a web-based development environment. The focus of the workshop, however, is not on the technology but rather on the benefits and challenges of real-time collaboration. Does this practice make conventional Agile approaches look cumbersome or does it lead to disaster? To evaluate the effectiveness of this approach, we will ask our wolf packs to complete a series of tasks following the process.
Audience background:Programmers, developers and managers who have some understanding of agile techniques, an ability to program an OO language and an interest in real-time collaboration.
Benefits of participating:Participants will explore and consider some of the impacts of taking a radical approach to application development. This workshop will help them to examine their existing development practices from a new perspective.
Materials provided:We provide a server, wireless network, and handouts.

Every participant *must* bring a laptop.
Process:Participants will be divided into packs of 6-8 people that will collaborate on a sequence of tasks. They will first be guided through the process and then given the opportunity to complete one or more iterations independently. Each pack will be assisted by a Smalltalk expert who will provide mentoring and expertise on the language and development environment. After the session, there will be time for group discussion and feedback.
Detailed timetable:0h00 – 2h00 Introduction and trial-run of Wolf Pack Programming process
2h00 – 2h15 Break
2h15 – 3h30 Self-led iterations of the process
3h30 – 3h45 Break
3h45 – 5h00 Self-led iterations of the process
5h00 – 5h30 Review and discussions
Outputs:A summary of the merits of the process and real-time collaboration in general.
History:We have conducted the Wolf Pack Programming process with more than 20 different wolf packs, each with an average of eight to nine developers. Some fairly successful ones were for instance at SPA 2010 (as a BoF session), XTC, XP Days Benelux and Germany…
After having had a BoF session at SPA 2010, it was suggested to run a longer session, e.g. on the Sunday afternoon.
1. Julian Fitzell
Cincom Systems
2. JasonAYER S 3.