Happy Birthday, and how’s agile changed in your life time?

Happy Birthday Agile Staffs – 5 years! It’s been emotional…

From those early days at the Pie and Ale with Paul Shannon, Neil Kidd and countless regulars that have come and gone. Even 5 years ago agile software development was little known in the Midlands.

We went through a struggled phase a couple of years ago with only around 3 attendees at sessions but we’ve recently been able to increase membership and have enjoyed some great sessions.

I’ve suggested this session should be an open discussion about how agile has changed in these times. Is it more popular than before? Is the manifesto still relevant, and being used to affect software development, or are we just cargo-culting? Stand-ups for stand-up sake, not actually delivering each iteration, not taking notice of WIP? What can we do to make sure Agile Staffs still here in another 5 years?

We should wrap up a little earlier than usual, and finish the birthday celebrations at the Knot and Plough around the corner.

Functional Programming with Clojure

Functional programming has previously been seen as a niche, academic form of programming with little use in popular commercial software development. With greater system resources available on modern computers, and multi-core processors encouraging emphasis on multithreading, functional programming is back – and here to stay.

Paul Williams will initially demonstrate simple functional programming concepts like immutability using the Clojure REPL. He will walk through options on getting a Clojure environment working, but clojurerepl is an equally good environment in which to try the language with no setup. If you want to install Clojure, please ensure you have a modern JDK installed.

Once people have basic familiarity with the language and REPL, he’ll present some of Clojure’s time / noise saving features like destructing, and map / reduce.

Many OO / imperative programmings understand the benefits of FP, but don’t see how an application can be written with immutable state – Paul will finish off with a quick demo of a simple system written in ClojureScript / Clojure with an immutable database – Datomic.

Web Applications with CakePHP

As August’s session didn’t get off the ground, I will present what was to be the second half of August’s session as a full session in September.

Details to follow. This will be a practical session, so bring your laptop. The language will be PHP.

Collaboration Review & View Testing with PHP

August with Agile Staffordshire will comprise two strands of concern. Firstly, we shall take some time to explain our external activities this year and share the value they have had in our practice. I will start the session with a review of the BCS SPA 2015, a conference that I attended at the end of July.

Additionally, as a show & tell exercise, I will follow on from Ruth Mills exceptionally interesting session last month by demonstrating something similar, but probably not as good! We can tear the process of testing views in web applications and apply it to software development at large.

I look forward to seeing you there!

P.S. There may be a room change with appropriate software available so that everyone may have a go easily. I will post updated information if appropriate.

Thymeleaf and Thymesheet

An introduction to the Java templating engines Thymeleaf and Thymesheet, and how these can be used in Agile projects in conjunction with Spring and Maven. This will be a hands-on practical session with examples you can go through on a Java IDE of your choice (e.g. Eclipse, STS or IntelliJ IDEA).

Agile Book Club

This month we are hosting a book club of sorts. We are opening the floor for our members to share highlights, give an overview, or empart something learned from book you’ve read recently or perhaps something that has stuck with you and had a positive impact on your programming or the processes you follow. The format will be informal 10 minute lightning talks with a projector, whiteboard & an audience. If you’d like a spot to talk, please get in touch on meetup, twitter (@AgileStaffs) or email (nyakeh@live.co.uk).

Hope to see you there,

Advanced Git on the command line

Back in January, Paul ran a Git on the Command line session where he demonstrated the transparency and learning benefits of using Git in bash. He also hopefully whetted the groups appetite in terms of branchless workflows. 

This month, Paul’s going to build on the previous session by digging deeper into branchless development, feature switches, and how to commit and push bite size changes with a practical workshop.

He’s also going to demonstrate using Git bisect to perform binary searching on a code base to demonstrate how to find bugs. 

As per the previous session, please bring laptops with Git along, and we assume basic knowledge of the Git CLI.

The Value of Retrospectives

An evening looking at retrospectives and why they are vital no matter what Agile process you are using. A short talk by Melinda Marsh, followed by the group sharing experiences of retrospectives.

We will then complete a retrospective of Agile Staffs over the last 6 months. Feel free to come prepared – get your thoughts together so we can create one word cards that for example cover:
– things were good at
– what we can improve
– future things we’d like to try

See you there.


vi with Agile Staffordshire

vi, and its more recent clone vim, is a tool that has a 30 year legacy and is still gaining new users. In our January Git session; upon committing code at the terminal, vi launched and confounded many of us. It was decided, by the group, to arrange a session on vim. It transpired that Agile Staffordshire already has a number of vim users of varying competency.


To begin, I will introduce vim and some of the basic features and ‘modes’ for simple editing. This is designed as a ‘noob-to-noob’ session. I have only been using vim for about 6 months and will be figuratively ‘a page ahead’ of the learner. I will explain some of the differences between standard GUI editors and some of advantages of the vim ‘way of things’.

Further vim

Jason Underhill will continue the session with some additional features; these include:

• Spell check

• Code formatting

• Regular expressions

• searchBuffers, windows and tabs

Plug-ins will also be introduced, demonstrating vim’s extensible architecture, some of which; Ctrl-P, Surround, SuperTab, Endwise and Markdown.

Alternative IDE

Consider notch turned up! Paul Williams will demonstrate why more developers are moving from full-blown IDEs to ‘legacy’ editors, such as vim. He will demonstrate a full terminal workflow using vim and tmux, automatic unit test execution and using a Clojure REPL. Imagine Repl + Test Driven Development without an IDE!

Tooling Up

This will be a practical session, so bring your laptops. Most operating systems have vim available; either installed or via a package manager. The notable exception is Microsoft(R) Windows(R). Visit vim download page. Wi-Fi Internet access has been provided by Staffordshire University in prior events and I expect they will be kind and do it again.

From Chaos to Kanban

There’s always a great atmosphere and discussion at Agile Staffordshire whenever we have a guest speaker. February did not disappoint. Craig Judson (Operations Manager at Codeweavers) presented Kanban in general and then elaborated on how Kanban is utilised specifically for continuous delivery of software.

Subsequently, a vibrant and energised discussion took place on working practices and project/product management. It was great to have such a varied mix of disciplines and roles present to contribute; consultants, developers, academics and managers. It was particularly interesting to note how various people were adapting well-known techniques to their work place and teams.

Thank you, Craig!

Craig Judson discussing Kanban and software delivery.

Craig Judson gave a presentation on Kanban and how it is used to deliver software at Codeweavers.

Also in February, Rosie Anderson and Rebecca Mycock stopped by to introduce Outsource. While Agile Staffordshire is primarily a group to share experience, expertise and good practice it is useful to network and learn about jobs, careers and opportunities in the Industry. I am sure that we will welcome them again at some point in the near future. Students may wish to pay attention to our blog for news concerning graduate recruitment (as well as all of the great professional experiences they can learn about). Thank you, Rosie and Rebecca!

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