Michael Feathers, Bruce Anderson, Jason Gorman, Dave Thomas (pragDave), John Daniels, James Dobson are on the panel. It's clearly not a completely serious effort :)
Web 2.0 - what is it, and where can I buy it?
Dave Thomas - a huge success in marketing, and he's not sure where you can buy it. Web 2.0 is all about making browsers suck less (AJAX, asynch updates, etc). There's no worse place for an application than a 3270 that also gets porn - are we putting more and more lipstick on a pig? He's saying that the browser should be dead, and we should be moving to smarter clients. For a lesson, look at how the next generation plays video games - why can't we produce applications that are as useful as that? We need a more immersive, useful environment.
Michael Feathers - Yes, the browser model is somewhat broken, but it's non-proprietary. It's lousy, but it works.
Audience question - what about Flash? Michael says yes, it's definitely part of Web 2.0. Jason says it's unclear what Web 2.0 even is. It feels like something I already have, but with a cooler name. Bruce - keeps thinking about Google Earth. A large part is that IT shops like the browser because of the low maintenance aspect of installation.
Audience followup - what about mashups? Browsers enable it, it looks cool, but how maintainable/scalable is it? Dave: XML should have been shot at birth. DJ's (music) are an example of mashups. HTTP's advantages: dynamic typing and port 80.
Automatic vs. Manual Tests: What do you recommend?
Jason - manual tests are run once as a sanity check, so that you know what's being done. Then move to automation.
John - don't do manual testing - automate it. You'll find that you won't need manual tests. James: what about more ad-hoc testing that still needs to be done? What about UI tests? John: Talking about system/acceptance testing more than unit testing. Michael: as many automated tests as possible is good. Manual testing is useful for "exploratory testing", when you are trying things out. James: User Interface testing, when we are talking about subjective judgements, cannot be automated.
Audience feedback - Manual testing is error prone and cannot be as predictable as automated testing. Dave: testing is a design/analytic tool as much - or more - than a bug finding tool. In this case, the question becomes meaningless. All the testing is manual, with some of it becoming automated over time as we move through development. Michael: Testing tells us about the design, and provides a frame for "holding it up". Michael: We've moved from BDUF to BTUF (Big Test Up Front). We've gone too far.
What are the best motivational techniques for developers?
Bruce - I like to see developers taken seriously. It's about being genuinely involved in the task at hand.
Jason - Need to be able to "put my stamp" on things. Being able to walk away and say "I was there".You lose motivation when you aren't taken seriously
John - I only hire developers who care about what they are doing. There are the 9 to 5 types, and the people who attend conferences like this. If you have the latter, and you give them the space to do what they are good at, then you'll get results.
Dave - No way to motivate, but tons of ways to de-motivate. It comes from a lack of respect.
Michael - Different people are motivated differently. A lot of self selection happens.
Bruce - At IBM, we get involved in large projects, where you might fear death marches. We find it's easy to attract people to the challenge.
Audience question - What about the tension between what product management wants/needs, and what developers want/need? Need more and better communication to bridge that gap. Feedback - it can be very demotivating to end up doing what you are sure is not the right thing.
Is Management the root of all evil?
John - I'm pretty sure it's no :)
Dave - Listening to managers is the root of all evil. You have a responsibility to say no if you think you are being told to do the wrong thing.
Jason - Money is the root of all evil. Managers are just the weed growing around the mony
Bruce - A good manager shields developers from the day to day "crap" that crops up.
Michael - Bruce just described good management. Too many organizations have people who cannot understand the ramifications of bad decisions.
John - it's about having a good relationship between managers and developers. It's about mutual respect toward common goals.
Audience question - Should managers come up from technical staff? Jospeh: would prefer someone who understand what's going on. We are in one of the few professions where we have managers who do not understand technology. Michael: Do leadership and management have to be the same? Dave: Some teams need a strong tech lead, some teams need a non-technical manager. It depends on the team. Michael: You want the soft skills, regardless.
I'm in Dilbert Hell. What do I do?
Consensus: Get another job, or if not possible, find a hobby.