Software Development Best Practices India – Chennai 2007

Had a chance to attend the Dr.Dobb’s Software Development Best Practices conference in chennai today. It is their debut in India, with conferences in Hyderabad, Chennai and Bangalore. There were 2 tracks available namely Software Architecture & Design and Project Management. The holiday season had an impact on the audience count but the organisers ensured that the crowd was enough to have Chennai on the list, also for the next year.

Jonathan Erickson, the Editor-in-chief of DDJ started with the keynote where he touched upon globalisation and introduced the speakers.

The first session in PM track was Andrew Stellman’s “What Makes Open Source Projects Work”. He started with the standish group’s chaos report. He was explaining how contracting/outsourced work is akin to an OSS project. He underlined the importance of Documenting using Wiki, Test-driven development, Continuous Integration and host of other topics. Using of Screencast for explaining software features was new to me. He also took case studies of KDE and other OSS like Firefox to prove that rigorous process and QA activities are followed also in OSS.

There was a vendor session by Microsoft’s Abhishek Mathur, who is the program manager for Visual Studio Team System. It was a typical vendor presentation explaining how cool and magical is the new VSTS. I asked if Vista Development team is using VSTS to reduce their pain and the presenter wasn’t sure of the tool being used by the team. However, he said the tool is being used by a 600 people project team and ensured that it scales well.

Post lunch, there was a presentation from Jason Beres of Infragistics on “An Agile Approach to Building Great User Experiences” where he talked about Usability. Nice, indeed. He touched upon user models and persona for designing a usable UI.

For the final session, I moved to the Architecture & Design track since it was on my favourite subject – Security. Dr. Herbert Thompson, a leading authority on software security presented on “Securing Software Design and Architecture: Uncut and Uncensored”. It was an lively session and the examples like cheating the soda machine with bahamian cents, Tetris collapsing on a flight and backup disks ruined by the untrained secretary were marvellous. He spoke about the recent breach disclosure legislations in US/Europe which mandates the organisations to disclose that they have been violated. This is the reason, why we see an increase in the security incidents reported by the media. He mentioned the importance of Threat modelling and identifying abuse cases to secure an application. He introduced Fuzz testing which was new to me. He demonstrated a Buffer overflow technique on a flash file using this concept. Remarkable presentation but the security awareness level of the audience was very minimal and hence questions asked were very basic 🙁

Finally had some time to thank Stellman for his Applied Software Project Management book . I expressed how I could feel satisfied in knowing that am not alone in facing project management issues. Wished him good luck for his upcoming Head First PMP. We were chatting about the PMP book market specifically about Rita Mulcahy’s guide 😉 He also expressed about his plans for the next book on C# under Head First Series. I suggested to write a book on Project Management in outsourcing setup. Also thanked, Dr. Thompson for his presentation.

Due to the parallel sessions, felt that I missed Dr. Scott Meyers’ “Better Software-No Matter What” and Ken Pugh’s “Managing Global and Distributed Teams”.

Looked like there were lots of authors from O’Reilly or may be it was a sheer coincidence. Overall, it was a good show.