Today’s guest blogger is David Parsons, a senior lecturer in Information Technology at Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand. David has a special interest in various aspects of technology-enhanced learning, particularly in mobile and virtual world learning, and also in software development methods. The Wonderland Agile Technique Hour project brings these two interests together.
Agile Technique Hour
Massey University, New Zealand
By David Parsons
At Massey University in New Zealand we have been working for some time on porting our ‘Agile Technique Hour’ workshop (http://www.massey.ac.nz/~dpparson/agilehour.htm) on agile software development techniques into Wonderland as a way of running the workshop without needing to arrange a physical space. The workshop itself has been run many times with university students, in commercial courses, and at conferences; however, it requires a lot of setup effort and physical material. We hope to be able to use Wonderland to run the workshop in ways that not only make it independent of location and materials, but also even better than the live version, by embedding the workshop rules and processes into the Wonderland environment.
This is still a work in progress, but so far we have created the basic tools that enable the workshop activities to take place. In the real-world workshop, participants work in teams to draw the separate features of a human-powered vehicle on overhead projector transparencies from a set of user stories. In this task they are either helped or hindered by the availability (or not) of certain agile techniques. The objective of the workshop is to help participants understand both the value of individual agile techniques, and also the way that various techniques complement each other. In the Wonderland version, user stories appear in PDF viewers, and features are drawn on whiteboards. These are distributed in separate rooms in the initial iteration of the workshop, which is intended to demonstrate the problems of not co-locating developers and stakeholders, not pair programming, not using continuous integration etc.
In the real world workshop, features created by separate developers are brought together by laying the transparencies on top of each other. In the Wonderland version, the various whiteboard images (one per story feature) are brought together into a single display whiteboard. The following screenshots show separate features being drawn and then being integrated on a team whiteboard.
Normally there are up to ten features in an iteration created by a team of developers. To keep these images simple, only two features by a single developer are being combined in these images.
To make this work we have added some custom functionality to the Wonderland whiteboards. The developer versions allow an image to be sent to a team repository via a button labeled with the team’s letter (A, B, C or D), as can be seen on the modified toolbar.
This enables a set of SVG images to be collected together and then overlaid as a single image on another version of the whiteboard (the ‘integration’ board) that is primarily for ‘reading’ rather than ‘writing’. This has a different toolbar without drawing tools.
Successfully handling the separate boards, images and queues provided some challenges, and the Wonderland forum was invaluable in overcoming these. They now work effectively; however, we still need to add dragging and scaling functionality to the integration board.
We have run a few test sessions with the current environment, and still have some way to go before the workshop can be used in production. Since starting the project, however, we have seen ongoing improvements in the Wonderland platform that have supported us in developing the application, and are confident that ongoing development both of Wonderland and our own application will allow us to meet our objectives. We made a short YouTube video as a snapshot of the work so far: