Agile Developer’s Journal: A Day in the Life


Tuesday, Mid-Iteration
8:30 a.m.
As an early bird, I arrive before the crowd to catch up on my email and other administrative tasks while enjoying my bagel and coffee. I take the quiet time to review the overnight PMD report (similar to Lint) that shows I have some dead code and poor use of Java’s String class. In about ten minutes, I’ve fixed the issues, run my unit tests, checked in the code, and verified the build.

Agile breaks down a project’s work into small increments called tasks (e.g., “Allow user to spell check his entered text”). The agile team estimates the duration of the tasks and keeps track of them in the product backlog. The product backlog is subdivided into the tasks for the given iteration, aptly called the iteration (Scrum) backlog. Last night, I completed a task from the iteration backlog, so I head over to the storyboard that contains all of the remaining task cards and choose another task. I pick a relatively easy task (estimated time length required: one hour). I create unit tests, code, and refactor until I complete the task and have a successful integration build. Within half an hour I’m done and mark the task as complete.

9:15 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.
Around 9:15 there’s a buzz in the air. People stand up at their seats and mill about. Our ScrumMaster (i.e., manager) enters with the client manager (i.e., business), and we gather in a circle. The fifteen-minute daily stand up has begun. The daily stand up is the opportunity for the entire team to succinctly sync-up on everyone’s individual progress (burndown chart) against this iteration’s feature or story point estimations. In other words, the stand up is a status meeting timeboxed to fifteen minutes.

Everyone shows up on time today since yesterday the ScrumMaster enforced the rule, “You’re late, you’re lunch.” Let’s just say I didn’t enjoy going out into the cold to pick up lunch for everyone on my tab. We begin the meeting by everyone's answering four questions (traditional Scrum has three similar questions):

Figure 2

Diagram 1.2 – Stand-Up Questions

* This is the opportunity to revise estimates. For example, we are four hours into a task that was estimated at eight hours, but now find it is a bit more difficult and there is another six hours of work left.

Stand ups are kept focused and short (fifteen minutes). These questions create a structure to deliver status updates quickly and efficiently. Follow ups are noted and discussed immediately following the meeting or later that afternoon.

A developer named Cynthia begins and halfway though her update Bill interrupts her to discuss his related status. Our ScrumMaster gently reminds everyone that “one person speaks at a time and no side conversations,” and currently Cynthia has the floor. I’m grateful for this reminder, because when we don’t adhere to this practice, the fifteen-minute stand up easily turns into a thirty-plus-minute stand up.

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