I Am Not a Tshirt, I Am a Free Man

The whirlwind tour of duty with Atlassian is over and I am older and wiser for the experience. As a famous writer once put it

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief” Well it certainly was an interesting experience and I learnt so many valuable things, many of which I never expected to learn.

Initially I was involved in shaping the role I was undertaking and it was great to brainstorm on how to meaningfully connect with the developer community. At a certain point though I felt it became all about the marketing and and little about what we were saying and doing, so I regrettably bowed out.

Developing user run user groups

Although Adaptavist, Clearvision and other partners really helped drive a community around Atlassian in the UK, the lack of active community was a limiting factor for building a strong community around the product and platform.

Although I managed to establish three regional user groups in London, Bristol and Reading, it still remains a challenging issue for Atlassian on how to run a passionate user group around software development tools in the UK.

Part of the challenge is in the different ways that everyone uses these tools. Also there is some gap between users working with JIRA and those working with Confluence. The products are quite powerful and often aimed at different areas of the business. I something wonder if it would have been better to have seperate JIRA, Confluence and DevTools events.

Blogging and outbound marketing

I really relished the opportunity to enhance my blogging skill and now I get over 1,000 hits for some of the posts I create on my personal blog website. Blogging is a great way to get feedback from the community on ideas you have for applying technology. Blogging also encourages others to share their stories and help the development community grow.

My twitter addiction was under control before I started at Atlassian and using a great tool like HootSuite helped me not waste too much time. Twitter is an amazing tool for learning and discovering things, but its so easy to spend a whole day there and yet feel you havent achieved anything. Creating lists and scheduling posts helped me make the most out of the Twitter service.

I also learnt all about outbound marketing, search engine optimisation and other marketing techniques. All these are useful to help raise awareness about a company or service, however its just a small initial step when the goal is to really get developers to engage with you. Marketing techniques help developers find your content, but you have to say something that is meaningful to them, something that inspires and engages with them. It is quite a challenge to come up with meainingful technical content on a regular basis.

I did have a great time putting together useful content for the Getting on Git campaign we ran with Clearvision, giving developers a great insight into the benefits of Git adoption. Rather than just focus on products, we gave a wider understanding of the value of making the switch and practical ideas on how to make that change.

Getting practical

I believe its very important to do things at a local level to make the community highly active. While its important to give product updates to the community, its even more important to help them see how it relates to their own challenges.

One of the best ways I found to do this is to get developers practical. Running workshops, hackathons and developer events aimed at giving people the experience they need to succeed with your products is vital if you want real adoption and raving fans!

An organisation can only do so much to reach out to the community, the more it engages with that community at a local and practical level, the more active that community becomes at growing the community itself.


Again, I’d like to thank everyone at Atlassian for the experience and wish them all the luck in the world. For a developer, I still think Atlassian is one of the top 10 places to work, especially if you are based in Sydney Australia - its beautiful there!

Thank you.

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UK Developer Startup Wins Aussie Gold

Coding is fun, its also great if you make some profit!

UK developers lead by community expert Alan Parkinson recently formedHindsight Software, a start-up focused on bringing Behaviour Driven Development (BDD) to as wide an audience as possible. With their first product Behave for JIRA, they entered into the Atlassian Codegeist competition judged by Atlassian’s CEO Mike Cannon-Brookes. They scored a big win against a record number of entries in the annual competition.

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Behavior Driven Development Coming to JIRA

Hindsight is a start-up company focused on building intelligent testing software that supports agile practices such as acceptance testing.  Using the Atlassian Marketplace to enable rapid development of their first tool, Behave for JIRA, they had a platform to quickly deliverer a valuable product to a large number of software teams around the world.

Atlassian competitions such as Codegeist showed Hindsight how easy it was to get started with plug-in development with JIRA and inspired the team to secure funding for their own product development.

Hindsight is passionate about software quality and is in the business of providing tools to help everyone in the software development team focus on quality of the delivered product.

Their first product, Behave for JIRA, brings acceptance testing to the wealth of Atlassian customers around the world and at a lower cost of entry into the market.  If successful the company will look to extend this service to the cloud.  In the mean time the Atlassian market place allows Hindsight to validate that their innovative solutions are valuable to the market before they make a major infrastructure investment

Behave for JIRA – bringing Acceptance Testing to all your projects

Acceptance tests allow you to express specific needs for your software product in a way that is testable and measurable.  It is also invaluable for breaking down the barriers in software development.

Behave for JIRA allows you to easily add acceptance tests to any issue in your projects.  Acceptance tests are written in a natural language, eg. English, but in a structured way so that those needs can be matched up to the software that is created to satisfy them.  In Behaviour Driven Development an example acceptance test would be:

Given _a specific situation
When _something occurs
Then _you will get a specific outcome

The most commonly used acceptance testing framework is called Cucumber and supports many different software programming languages.  Once you have defined you acceptance criteria with JIRA Behave, you can then run those tests with Cucumber to get instant feedback on you software development progress.

As this is a plug-in for JIRA, you can easily make use of all the data your projects and have a simple to use and powerful way to edit and review your test specifications.  This includes syntax highlighting editor for quick authoring of requirements & acceptance tests.

Developing products using Atlassian tools

As Hindsight have stakeholders with a vested interest in the success of the company, they make use of the Atlassian tool-set to ensure everyone is up to date with the progress of the software development.  Any non-technical people involved in the company can see the sprint burn-down charts and understand the status.  It is easy to see what is planned and what the development team have committed to and hold the team to account if they don’t meet the targets they set for themselves.

For the developers, using GreenHopper it was easy to see if things were going to over-run and a decision could be made quickly about re-prioritising the work.  As this all fed into a JIRA dashboard for the stakeholders, communication about progress was updated in real time.  When two new graduates were on-boarded, it took just two sprints to adjust their capability using GreenHopper to track and review progress.

The development team uses a Scrum-like approach, base on a two week iteration.  Using JIRA GreenHopper scrum template made set-up of the project as simple as defining a project name and pressing a few buttons. The team have also used the rapid board to manage their individual responsibilities so they can quickly priorities the features inside the sprint.

Hipchat provides an instant way for the team to to discuss challenges, especially when they are apart.  As Hipchat is also plugged into JIRA and their overall build process, any significant changes in the project get broadcast on the Hindsight Hipchat channel.  This immediate feedback from build servers, allows the team to quickly fix problems as they happen.

3 most valuable practices

1) Visibility to the business – stakeholders can see our commitments and easily hold us accountable

2) Distributed working is often a necessity and so having our up to date progress accessible anywhere there is an Internet connection is invaluable.  Using Distributed Version control also means we can work off line

3) In constant communication using Hipchat which also enables the team to see JIRA notifications on bug reports, issues re-opened tickets and other major events.

Head over to Atlassian to find out about their range of software for software developers and dont forget to checkout the Codegeist competition (ends 16th July 2012).
Thank you.

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Guiding Enterprises to Effective DVCS Adoption

In the UK many enterprises involved in software development are realising the competitive advantage of moving to a distributed version control system (DVCS). DVCS is now forming a vital role in their strategy towards continuous delivery. This advantage is gained not just in switching tool sets but by adapting to a more collaborative approach to development and fully understanding the opportunities this technology enables.

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Innovation as Easy as Raspberry Pi

One use of the information radiator displays the Hindsight rapid board view. This board has a column to show features branches (issues) that need to be merged back to master and we conduct peer code reviews at this stage (using pull requests) and the non-assignee will perform the merge and close the issue. We use JIRA workflow rules to enforce this with the help of the visual workflow designer.

Hindsight, a startup in the London Silicon Roundabout, are a great example of how Atlassian software has helped companies get productive quickly. Our GreenHopper and JIRA software help Hindsight manage their work and focus on the most valuable activities to gauge how much return they are getting from the investment they put into their ideas.

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Keep Calm and Use Clojure

A really nice april fools from Cake Solutions. I actually think this works quite nice as a sound-byte for the Clojure functional programming language on the JVM.

There are lots of scarily possible april fools stories on Slashdot, although they are funny its disturbing how close some of them are to the truth.

My favourite april fools video is from the Bitbucket team, making light of developers who are weary of pair programming… I definitely have to get myself one of these t-shirts.

Thank you.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 ShareAlike License, including custom images & stylesheets. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at @jr0cket
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Developers Party Time at QCon London 2012

Talks at technical conferences can give a very detailed insight into new innovations, they be a great source of inspiration and motivation. Sometimes they even make you giggle.

At QCon London I got large doses of all of the above, thanks to Rich Hickey, Dan North (DWZ Trading), Colin Humpreys (Carrenza), Ade Oshineye (Google) and Patrick Debois (father of DevOps, working with Atlassian).As I didnt make the training days this year, I was sad to miss out on the tutorials by Simon Brown, Russ Miles and Rachel Davies which all looked great.

My favourite talk was definitely the “Cloud… so much more than a tool“ by Patrick Debois. Not only was it an interesting experience report on the realities of using Cloudy technology to build a highly scalable video broadcasting service, it was also the best use of LolCats I have ever seen… ever…

@jr0cket: @patrickdebois has the best cat based slides ever - even better than @swardley which is saying something #qconlondon

Dan North was a cheeky a rascal as ever, actually making the audience think! At a conference! Oh, the humanity! Colin Humphrey from UK Atlassian partner Carrenza gave an overview of the fantastic build pipeline they create for their customers, along with insight into the business drivers of using such a build pipeline with respect to IaaS, PaaS and SaaS solutions.

jr0cket Adoption of continuous delivery is becoming ubiquitous, companies asking @Carrenza to deliver this via Platform as a Service @hatofmonkeys #qconlondon

I had the pleasure of listening to Ade Oshineye sharing his experiences when developing Google Buzz & Google plus and how understanding how someone is going to use your code is very important when developing a public API, you cant just expect them to know everything you know.

Atlassian also realised the importance of the developer experience as it helps engage with the wider community of developers as well as our own teams, enabling them to start developing amazing plug-ins quickly. The last year has seen some real usability improvements to the Atlassian SDK and our Atlassian Developers website and with JIRA 5.0 we have a stable API that is guaranteed future proof for all future 5.x versions.

Everyone had great fun at the Atlassian party on the Wednesday night and very large Cenral Hall building was bursting at the seams.

Organising the Atlassian party was a nice little challenge as the hall was massive and I had very welcome help from our UK partners: Gareth Wilson (Adaptavist) and Matthew Buckland (Clearvision).

There was a great spread of food, although we did tease people a little by it coming out in stages! There was also a great selection of beers, not just bottled larger. There was everything from Newcastle Brown, John Smiths, Spitfire, a nice range of largers and even some wine at the request of Trisha Gee.

QCon London 2012 - Pictures from the Atlassian Party

Find out other great events and party’s Atlassian are involved with on our Events List.

Thank you

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 ShareAlike License, including custom images & stylesheets. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at @jr0cket
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UK Developers Getting Social With JIRA 5

Many software development teams struggle to get the attention they need because of the way their communication is managed. Having tools to enable the team to involve the right people at the right time makes a huge impact.

Having the right feedback can make the difference between a projects success and failure. So its great to see the tools developers rely on are adopting these social tools in a meaningful way, without just recreating Facebook. The end goal should be powerful tools that easily allow the whole team to reach the whole organisation collaborate effectively.

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