Bumping into cool Agile tools

Currently, I am on one of those really standard tasks in a migration process: Software Intake.

My role in this is writing application installation instructions for the helpdesk (or for packaging), whereafter these instructions are tested and then approved by the key-user.

Now generally, I considder this rather boring an tedious work, however, you get to be exposed to a very large array of different software, which I do find usefull. I often learn a lot about what kind of software is out there during this kind of project. Would not want to do it for longer than a month or so though.

Anyhow.. one of the applications that passed my desk yesterday was Junit. (Homepage, Sourceforge)

Now, not being a developer at all, and not knowing the first thing about Java really, I had no idea what this thing was, or how to write an instruction for it. But I quickly realized that this little tool was representative of some of the better stuff I have been exposed to over the last year..

Junit is of course a Unit Test tool, used to test small bits of code at a time.

From Wikipedia:
In
computer programming, a unit test is a method of testing the correctness of a particular module of source code.

The idea is to write test cases for every non-trivial function or method in the module so that each test case is separate from the others if possible.

The unit testing concept is part of the Extreme Programming method of software engineering. Various unit testing frameworks, based on a design by Kent Beck, have come to be known as xUnit testing frameworks and are available for many programming languages and development platforms. Unit testing is the building block to test driven development (TDD). Extreme Programming and most other methods use unit tests to perform black box testing.

Note that the Extreme Programming community has renamed unit tests to “programmer tests”.

Now it was only recently that I was introduced to some of these Agile methodologies like Extreme Programming and Scrum, and I got rather enthousiastic about it all.. as enthousiastic as a non-developer can get about such things I suppose.

But you have to understand, that my opinion of how IT in general is practiced here in the Netherlands, is not very high, and a symptom of this is this ‘disconnect’ between what I understand to be best-practices and what I have read about them online, opposite the fact that the average admin or dev in the Netherlands (that I have met) often wont even have heard of any of this kind of stuff, let alone follow any of it.
(Arrogance alert: Remember, this is my own perception, and I may be wrong. But the more Dutch companies I am exposed to, the more I get this feeling; – that there is an overwhealming lack of awareness of people in IT, of the larger IT community, and what is happening in that space. And thus, the more convinced I become that people like me are the exception in this ‘awareness’, and not the rule)

Therefor, you can possibly imagine my delight to see some evidence of developers within a Dutch company actually being connected with the bigger picture, in that they are not only familiar with concepts such as Agile methods, but are actually going out and finding the tools to make it work for them.