XP Day France 2008 : Day 1

This Monday 5 and Tuesday 6 of May 2008, I’ve been to my first XP Day(s, it actually lasts 2 days) in Paris, an event organized by the association XP France; here are my impressions…

At 8:30, slowly, every guest gets his ID tag, and a breakfast is offered, we’re discovering the schedule of the days to come: the event is divided into 4 rooms, and each day is divided into 4 1 hour and a half sessions (but a session can last all day long or also half a day); all sessions are in French language.
Many subjects are present, the advantage is that you’re sure to find something interesting; on the other hand, if 2 appetizing meetings take place at the same time, you have to choose.
Then, at 9 o’clock, we’re about 150 people (I think) and we are asked to go downstairs, to attend the introduction meeting where the organizers of the event introduce themselves (and also ask people to, if they can, contribute for the next XP days) and the following XP meetings (Agile Tour, round France, and Agile Open, where attendees will be able to turn into speakers); finally, the speakers of the day introduce what they will be talking about during the sessions they will present.
I chose to be present at the XP laboratory, presented by 2 folks working at Pyxis (a Quebec based company responsible, among others, of Green Pepper).
The session last all day long (but you’re free to leave or get back when you want) and invites people to work on a refactoring of the Miles card game (“1000 Bornes” in French), called XtremeMiles.
People immediately configure their laptop to get up and coding…
The thing is, the speakers turn themselves into the “Client” (or the product owner, because XtremeMiles is a Scrum project) and the “Scrum Master”, and they ask us, the developers, to adopt a Test Driven Development procedure (we write the tests, with JUnits, before we code).
But the main aspect developed is that we’re organized in a Scrum project (it was actually the first time I experienced this kind of Agile organization).
So to sum up the procedure :
• First, we have a meeting with the Scrum master and the product Owner to ask questions (5mn), to agree on engagement (5mn for the team to choose the cards proposed by the product owner, which contain stories, tracing functionalities) and for the sprint backlog (5mn);
• Then, the sprint lasts 3 days for each iteration (a day in this game lasts 20 minutes, divided into 2 minutes of stand up meeting, where developers tell the Scrum Master what they’ve done, the problems they’ve encountered and what they’re going to achieve; and 18 minutes of work)
• Finally, it’s time to show the demo where the developers and the Scrum Master present to the client what they have achieved during the iteration

To code, we used eclipse with subclipse and JUnit, the speakers prepared a Bamboo (continuous integration) to test if a commit would break the build (we were under pressure !)

I attended this session 3 hours (2 iterations) and it was quite fun and very interesting : we’ve been able to witness problems of communication between teams, the way an agile project can rapidly react, etc…
This session was so popular, the organization decided to make it last one day more !

The afternoon, I was present at the “Sujets Eclairs” (lightening talks) session; where anyone in the room can present a subject and explain it in 10 minutes.(usually people who talk during lightening talks are not familiar with public presentations; moreover subjects presented are usually not prepared)
Many topics were proposed, most of them were about project management and agility.(which was nice actually)
The first day finished with some words from the sponsors, among them, Valtech, my employer ! (and also an excellent dinner !)

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