November 10, 2008

...Learn TDD with Codemanship

Comparing The OT99 Programme To SPA2009

How times have changed!

Or have they?

Rob Bowley from BBC Worldwide pointed me to the just-this-very-nanosecond published programme for SPA2009.

And I looked at the session titles and the names of the presenters and wondered how much the conference has changed in the last, say, decade.

Jump into my hastily constructed time machine and let's turn the dial all the way back to 1999, when it wasn't even called "Software Practice Advancement".

No, Sir. Back then - when neither Java nor The X-Files had disappeared up their own arses yet - it was called "Object Technology 99" (OT99).

And whereas these days it's "Agile this", "Test-driven that" and "Ruby the other", back at OT99 it was objects, patterns, components, reuse, models and architectures that bestrode the land like the dinosaurs we now know them to be.

There's an early showing for Extreme, and a session from a certain Mr Kent Beck.

And I think I spotted a pre-hype-explosion reference to XML in there somewhere, too. A prehistoric glimmer of horrors yet to come.

Talking of which, I'm sure I eyeballed Ivan Moore in the accompanying photo. Ivan, now, is one of the programme chairs for SPA2009. Many of the names may have changed, but stalwarts like Ivan, John Daniels and Andy Moorley have hung on in there.

So there you have it. OO and CBD was still big. But Agile was on its way. And so was SOA, just waiting in the wings.

In some ways we've obviously come on light years. (Although, I suspect if we tend to "assume" a certain level of knowledge about OO design, patterns, architecture, CBD and all that boring, old-fashioned 90's stuff it's sometimes at our peril).

In other ways, I think we look like we're beating the same bushes, hoping miraculously that some different birds will fly out this time.

Certainly we're still talking in hushed tones about this mystical thing called "business value" and how we maximise our return on software development investment. I frankly don't think we've learned a damn thing in the last decade, and I fully expect there to be similar sessions at SPA 2059 because I just think it's not a soluble problem.

Ask a record producer how he knows his latest boy/girl/donkey group are going to be a big hit. He doesn't. He's just taking a punt on his number coming up. Business value's a hand of poker. Delivering great software deals you into the game, that's all. It's magic beans and fairy dust, if you ask me. But, let's face it, I'll probably go to those sessions and hand my prize cow over just the same. That's partly because they're organised by some very fine, upstanding folk. So they'll be interesting and well-run sessions nonetheless. And there's always that tantalising possibility that one of them might actually be on to something, of course.

Victorian pyschics claimed they could manifest tangible business value during seances

One thing that hasn't changed, though, is the high standard of the conference. SPA2009 looks as strong a line-up as ever. I'm looking forward to it, and I hope I'll bump into one or two of you there.

Posted 12 years, 6 months ago on November 10, 2008