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EclipseCon 2008 Report: John Wiegand on “Influence of Digital Communities on Software Development”

(Note – this is part of a series of posts on Jazz-related activities @ EclipseCon 2008. See this entry for background.)

Presenter: John Wiegand (IBM Rational Chief Architect)
Talk: “Influence of Digital Communities on Software Development”
Reporter: James Branigan

John Wiegand speaking at EclipseCon 2008

John started by providing a simple classification of digital communities that exist today. He organized these communities into groups, with commerce, play, socializing, working, and learning being some examples. The rest of John’s talk was about a specific type of digital community: software development communities.

John then presented an admittedly fictional view of a development community ten years from now. This community had some very interesting features, including real-time project awareness, an open marketplace for talent, and an options market for project chances of success.

After presenting this possible future software development community, John delved into a description of a growth path that could lead to these development communities of the future. The first part of this path is well-worn today, however the second part is more speculative and experimental.

He started by describing the dynamics of a team of one. With this as his base case, he expanded this to a small co-located team. From here, the team expanded to a group of distributed teams. The next step was describing what is needed to build a community around a group of projects which are composed of many teams. Eclipse itself was used as a example case of this arrangement.

The subsequent steps start with some experiments that IBM is currently running in the area of open commercial software development for the Jazz Platform and Rational Team Concert. The idea behind open commercial software development is to expose the development cycle to customers in a transparent way, so that they understand what is planned, what work items exist, and have visibility to other development artifacts. John presented the following framework for building future development communities.

How we succeed at getting to vision:

Transparency – Everything must be visible

Enable correlation of

teams way of working – Each team with its own process for working
team’s measurements – combination of metrics, not one single metric
team’s actual success – NOT claimed success

Remove barriers to collaboration

shared vocabulary – avoids the tower of babel problem
shared measurements – make sure a team cares about the same things
shared resources – avoid duplication of effort
shared practices – ensures consistency

Iterative Improvement – we won’t get there in one big step, it will be many small steps

The talk went a little over, but several people stayed afterwards to discuss the ideas for making the next steps towards the software development community of the future.