ALT.NET Austin - In Retrospect
I’m trying to let the events that transpired at the ALT.NET conversations this past week since into my brain. It was a healthy discussion, packed with TDD, BDD, DDD, and MVC.
The format of the event was amazing, and not just because people kept talking when I approached a group (they usually become mute, chuckle, or outright laugh). Open Spaces offers an equal playing field to everyone in attendance – there are no presenters, no PowerPoint presentations packed with propaganda. Anyone can convene a conversation on topics related to the event subject matter. When conversations begin, everyone is encourages to contribute and learn.
The format was empowering and everyone was comfortable talking with others at the event – even those they didn’t know. I spoke with many people I had never met and was pleased to find that I wasn’t the only agile novice present. While I spent a lot of time learning and using tools like Subversion, NAnt, CruiseControl.NET, and NUnit, that barely scratches the surface. Yes, continuous integration has been a huge improvement to our development process, and yes, Subversion is an amazing source control system, but that is a tool-only solution. I like to think of these things as easy-entry or low-hanging-fruit on the ALT.NET path.
The real pain alleviation is TDD and Agile. I was somewhat surprised talking to other attendees working in large enterprises that were completely agile. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking how we could evolve into an agile team and the first step is a big one. I’m sure I’ll take a lot of ideas and knowledge that I learned at the event and use it to help plan agile adoption in our team. In a large enterprise, there are a lot of regulatory issues that can limit how deep agile processes can go but those limitations are disappearing as companies learn to adapt and push the boundaries of rules put in place by legislation to protect investors.
As far as coverage of all the topics, there have been many play-by-play posts on the discussions so I’m not going to go too far into detail on each one I attended. I bounced between several sessions, choosing to catch different parts of each session to gather as much knowledge as possible. A few of the sessions seemed to get off track, particularly the ones that spent more time discussing what ALT.NET is rather than the things ALT.NET does. I’m sure there will be more of the is over the next few weeks as the community refines the message. I’m really interested in how those in attendance will take what they learned and share it with their local communities.