Helping Developers to Help Each Other

By Gail Ollis

If you have ever asked yourself the question "Why did they do THAT!?" when wrestling with a developer’s work, this session is for you.

My completed doctoral research does not answer it, but it does refine the question; I have built a definition of what 'THAT!'' is by interviewing software developers with a total of more than 400 years of industry experience between them. At ACCU 2014 I shared common themes that emerged: what experienced developers said about the day to day decisions made by their peers and how these make the job harder or easier. In this session I’ll give a brief recap.

These findings catalogue what constitutes 'good practice' from the unique perspective of how it affects peers' progress in their own tasks. But by itself, this catalogue does not change developer practice. In pursuit of helping developers to help each other to a better Developer eXperience, I have tested a workshop format that draws on the collective experience of the interviewees to allow teams to step back and reflect on their practice in a safe and encouraging environment. I will be explaining what these experimental workshops involved, why developers liked them and the potential the materials could have for other applications. You will have the opportunity to try the reflective workshop process for yourself.

Acknowledgement: My research would not have been possible without the generous help of my participants. My heartfelt thanks to all the software developers who volunteered to take part and the companies who allowed them to do so, and to ACCUConf for allowing me the opportunity to advertise for volunteers. I hope you all benefited from the experience.