Tag Archives: software team

Review: DITA for Practitioners, Vol. 1

Author: Eliot Kimber, XML Press

I will start this review with my conclusion:
I recommend this book for the DITA developer, and also for the person designing your DITA Information Model. Some parts are useful for the writer who is using DITA, but there are other books for them. Continue reading


Agile Ottawa Nov meeting – Steffan Surdek

I always enjoy going to the Agile Ottawa meetings.
I enjoyed the talk and got a lot out of it.

The presenter was Steffan Surdek. He is a co-author of the IBM Press
book “A Practical Guide to Distributed Scrum”, that we are reading at my workplace, Exar Ottawa.

Points I felt important to me:

  • Improve your conference calls by making sure everyone knows everyone’s voice.
    • “Rob here. I agree with …” – say your name each time you speak
  • Help staff get to know each other
    • Provide pictures and video of yourself on the internal web site
    • Use more voice calls
    • No, most companies can’t afford to bring teams together from China to Ottawa. One or two people in each direction is a realistic limit.
  • Share the pain of 12 hour time differences. Meet or phone in their work hours, not just yours.
  • Share information. Write down what happened, and what especially was decided, and wikify it.

It was great to have a chance to chat with Steffan after the meeting. Thanks for sticking around, Steffan!

changelists and mergeinfo for Subversion

Migrated. Originally posted: 2008-11-27


One of the reasons people like Perforce’s P4 is that it has changelists. You can add some files to a changelist, and other files to another changelist, then check in one changelist when you are ready, and not the other.

Now, in Subversion 1.5, you can do the same thing. Continue reading

Subversion 1.5 – that long distance feeling?

Migrated. Originally published: 2008-11-26

Have you seen a situation where Subversion needs to be accessible on a couple of different continents? Checkout of a few files, or an update with no changes, takes at least several seconds, call it 10, when your server is on the other continent. The following notes in the Release Notes show that this may be fixable now. Continue reading

Branch your build system

Migrated. Originally posted: 2008-11-26

I have worked on build systems at 4 companies. Some were branched, some were not. Some had web inerfaces, some were command-line only, some were cron-only.

A build system looks different than other software. It “only” has to build your software. Once it’s “done”, it looks like it won’t change.

Yeah, right. Continue reading

What do you expect from wiki software?

Migrated. Originally posted: 2008-03-2

I use a wiki to record procedures, processes, configuration information, and other info I need to track in working with build systems and databases. I think my use is typical of any IT department or software development department. Of the two most popular wikis in corporate environments, I prefer <a href=”http://twiki.org/”>TWiki</a&gt; to <a href=”http://www.mediawiki.org/wiki/MediaWiki”>Mediawiki</a&gt; (of Wikipedia fame) because of its “breadcrumb trails”. Let’s look first at more basic needs in a wiki.

I use the following features, which I want to be able to activate easily, with a character or two before and maybe after a text string or before a line.

  • unordered lists
  • ordered lists
  • bold
  • simple tables – generally 2 or 3 columns, short phrases in most, comments in one
  • line break – especially useful in tables
  • end paragraphs – by puttin a blank line in your text
  • easy links to other pages – CamelCase words as automatic links is easy and generally standard
  • easy links to other web pages outside the wiki
  • setting a different name for a link

I also expect these other features:

  • able to force users to log in before editing or writing
  • versioning of entries – able to look at the last 100 changes to a page

I have also come to appreciate automatic “heirarchical” back links. This works when you create a new page in your page by opening a link from another page. After you save the page, a “breadcrumb trail” shows the pages “before it” from the top page down to the page you created it from.

If you created two new pages, “alpha” and “beta”, with “alpha” created from the home page of the wiki, and “beta” created from “alpha”, you would have a breadcrumb trail at the top of “beta” like this.:

Home -> alpha -> beta

I like this. I frequently write 300 to 500 lines of info about a set of related topics. I split them up into pages of 50 to 100 lines each, with a top page that links them all. This becomes easy in TWiki, because it creates the breadcrumb trails I just described. If I send someone a link to one of the detail topics, they have an automatic link to a higher level page that links to all the related topics.

This is the biggest reason why I recommend TWiki over Mediawiki. In order to set up links to related pages in Media wiki, I have to provide all the links myself, not just some. Another is that Mediawiki doesn’t provide shortcuts for some simple things like bold. For bold, mediawiki lets you use HTML, as in <b>this would be bold</b>.

Mediawiki is a great product for Wikipedia, but Wikipedia is not organized heirarchically, and should not be, so Mediawiki does not provide support for the way I work. TWIki rocks!

Codestriker – Peer Code Review with software support

Migrated. Originally posted: 2008-01-01

There are a lot of people out there who would like to do code review at their company, but there is no time for the meetings. Now there are several software products that allow you to do the code review without the meetings. Continue reading