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Transforming Your Java Development to Agile - Where Do I Start? What Do I Need!

07-Jan-2014 13:00:00 Agile transformation Agile delivery
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Java Agile Configurator

When transforming an IT development capability to agile, you can spend a tremendous amount of time researching principles & practices and selecting tools – and that’s before you implement them. That’s why we’ve created a tool to guide you from established best development practices through to tools that implement or support those practices – The Java Agile Configurator.

Transforming any organisation towards agile is a giant task. Lots of areas of a business will need to embrace the change for it to succeed, and, although agile is not only for IT, invariably most companies introducing agile are doing so to improve the way they deliver IT projects.

But where do you start? What’s the scope of change that you need to make, and what are the options within that scope? This is a very large topic. Not every area of the business is affected equally and in fact non-IT areas will mainly face process change.

Change within the IT department will depend on the techniques and tools already in place. Unlike other departments, where processes or practices change in IT, tools are usually available to support or manage these (although nothing’s magic!), especially within the development side.

It’s accepted that for software development on agile projects, Extreme Programming (or XP) practices should be followed. These practices can be used as a basis for analysing the changes that needs to be made with your software development capability By looking at the 12 practices advocated, it’s possible to assess where change needs to occur. For instance, is continuous integration being used to provide instant testing of changes? Are you deploying automatically? Are you running business-written acceptance tests?

Using the 12 XP practices is a great place to start, but within those 12 are further sub-areas that will need considering (Continuous Integration is a perfect example). You end up with a long list of practices that you want to implement but that’s really just the start - what tools are available to you to help support the practices? Here’s where a lot of peoples head explodes - the choice of tools per practice can be staggering (try Googling Java unit test frameworks - Wikipedia lists over 30)! And which one should you chose? And having chosen it, how do you use it? It’s enough to put you off changing anything.

At Radtac:Delivery, we recognise that the scope of agile practices and their associated tool choices can be perplexing to IT development, which is why we’ve created a tool to provide the link between the practices and the best tools available in the market today.

Introducing the Radtac Java Agile Configurator (JAC).

Starting with the 12 XP practices, the tool explains each practice, drilling down to sub-practices where appropriate, and linking to the tools currently available in the market that are designed to support the practice, with a description for each.

Using JAC, you’ll first get a sense of what it means to develop software in an agile way. It starts with the principles & practices (and sub-practices!). You can use this information to assess your current practices too. Once you’ve determined what you’re not doing currently or decided what practices you’d like to implement, you can drill down into the tools. Each tool has an overview description against it, along with further data such as it’s licence type (read:is it free?!) and links to vendor websites for further details. We’ve sifted the wheat from the chaff in JAC - the tools listed are, in our opinion, the best ones available today.

JAC isn’t just a hierarchy of data though. As you are sifting through the information, you can select the tools you want to use and JAC will create a personalised report from the information you’ve selected. You can read from within JAC this at any time as you build it up, or print it to keep a record of your selections.

JAC could save you a tremendous amount of time & research in your agile transformation. It guides you through the principles & practices used in agile software development, detailing what they are, what they mean and why you should be using them, then shows you the best tools to use to implement or support those practices. You can use it to create a personalised list of practices and tools for your agile development process.

JAC is a beta product at the moment, and as you can guess from the title, this version is aimed at Java software development. If you’re interested in what JAC could offer you, you can try it for free at the moment - you’ll find all the details on the Radtac website at http://www.radtac.co.uk/radtacJAC/. There’s no need to install anything as JAC is a browser-based application.

Richard Levy
Software Craftsman and Agile Coach

Author

Rich Levy

Rich Levy

As a Software developer, it is Richard’s responsibility to technically oversee all new and on-going development, maintaining hands-on presence to ensure a laser focus on quality. Richard also takes on-line and resource management responsibilities for development teams, along with ownership of development practices and R&D into new technologies & Agile methodologies. A Sun Certified Java Programmer and Developer, plus a Certified ScrumMaster and Kanban Practitioner. Read more