Archive for August, 2007

User-Choices 1.1.0 released

User-Choices is a unified interface to configuration files, command-line options and arguments, and the environment. Here’s the beginning of the tutorial:

Suppose you have a command-line application that uses some number of, oh, let’s say “connections”. Most of the time, a user will want the same number of connections, so you’ll let them set a personal default in a configuration file. Sometimes they want to change the default. Maybe they’ll want a one-time change; for that, a command-line option is best. But sometimes they’ll want to make the change for an entire login session; for that, setting an environment variable is most convenient.

The User-Choices gem gives your code a unified interface to all those sources. Your code can obey the user’s choices without having to bother (much) about how she made them.

This version is derived from the one used in Part 4 of Everyday Scripting with Ruby. However, there are minor incompatible changes to the interface. Sorry about that. In return, you can now use YAML for configuration files, and empty argument lists are handled more gracefully when choices can also be made in the environment or a config file.

Examples “stage” at Agile 2008

Agile 2008 will be arranged around the metaphor of a music festival. There will be a main stage for the big-draw speakers, the larger tutorials for novices, etc.

I was asked to do a stage about testing that wouldn’t help shunt people into silos. (It shouldn’t be “the testing mini-conference”.) I decided the stage would take seriously the usefulness of explicit, concrete examples—executable or no—in the thinking about, construction, and post-construction investigation of software-ish things. Hence the logo:

Examples stage logo

Pask Award 2007 (plus a surprise)

Pask Award 2007

The 2007 winners of the Gordon Pask Award for Contributions to Agile Practice are Naresh Jain, for his work establishing user groups in India and for the Simple Design and Testing conference; and Jeff Patton, for his work helping establish what User Centered Design means in Agile (including the agile-usability group) and for being an example of the usefulness of being fluent in two fields (programming and UCD).

We also broke from our charter to create a new award—the Ward Cunningham Gentle Voice of Reason Award—and awarded it to Dale Emery for what he’s done on the XP and other mailing lists, and in person; and also for his work creating environments where change happens (rather than, as J.B. Rainsberger put it, “inflicting change on people”).

Join me in a warm round of applause…

(P.S. The similarity between this award’s graphic and my own four missing values poster is unfortunate. The Pask Award design came first, and I loved the image of ringing out the news. I hope the similarity isn’t interpreted to imply any other connection.)

Marketing mania continues

I decided to make up a poster reminding people of the four underemphasized values. Here it is:

Discipline, Skill, Ease, and Joy

If you would like one, send me mail. They are roughly one foot by two feet (30 by 60 centimeters). If you will be at Agile2007, I’ll bring one there for you to take back. (I’ll also have “An Example Would Be Handy Right About Now” stickers to give out.)

As always, the offer is good until I get tired of going to the Post Office or my inner cheapskate rebels.

I will mail overseas. I’m tickled that the stickers went to Europe, China, Australia, and elsewhere.

PLoP 2007 final call

                        CALL FOR PARTICIPATION (final)

    14th Conference on Pattern Languages of Programs (PLoP 2007)

      September 5-8, 2007 - Monticello, Illinois, USA

                *Early Registration till 19th August*


Programmer products

I like reading the Unclutterer site, in more of an aspirational than practical way. Inspired by their survey of reader workspaces, I present mine. I’ve recently finished optimizing its physical and musical environment with four decent to excellent products. If you crave pampering your proprioception and hearing, read on.

Office with Boots

Caring about software, public goods games, and our present state

Jason Gorman wants people to pledge that they care about software and that they’ll act on that caring. An impressive roster of people have signed the pledge. So why do I feel discouraged? It’s because of this:

[I pledge to] Offer moral and practical support to those who care as much as I do to help them do the right thing

What does that mean? How will it play out?