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Saturday, October 28, 2017

Architecture Diagram for ...

ARCHITECTURE DIAGRAM representing interactions of your family of microservices is one of many important things to achieve the enterprise-level microservice architecture and microservices. After going through the design and contract definitions of your APIs/microservices, your team needs to put together a single diagram that explains the interaction among microservices (owned by your team) and how these microservices interact with other teams’ microservices. This is basically the blueprint for your team’s work and this picture needs to be constantly updated as you are evolving your services. What does this give you? It gives you the big picture view and it allows you to detect good or bad patterns that you cannot see when you are deep in your code. For example, you may be able to see that you are doing too many direct API calls for something that could be done with pub/sub approach.

Almir Mustafic

P-BAR metrics in the life of agility

P = Product value
B = Bug fixing value
A = Architecture value
R = Robustness value

There are many different ways to measure the productivity of your agile teams, but certain measures get typically forgotten but they are ultimately why you are doing the work in the first place.
That's why I thought of this measuring system called P-BAR.

P for Product value and it is purposely the first letter. This is what ultimately matters. This is what your end customers benefit from. In a perfect sprint, you are always adding a lot of product value. However, the real world is not perfect and that's ok. It is ok not to have a lot of product value in sprint 0 and 1. But later you should be having sprints with the P value high.

Bug fixing value makes sense after you some number of P-value sprints and now functionality is being tested, and it is ok to have some percentage of bugs being fixed. However, if you are adding a lot of B-value in the 11th hour of the project, then it means you left all your bug discovery and/or fixing for late in the game.

Architecture value within your sprints may be high at the at the beginning sprints and occasional sprint later, but you should question it if too much of this being added closer to the end of your releases.

Robustness value measures to what degree you are developing your code to the enterprise level. This is something that should be evenly distributed throughout all sprints. It should be part of the culture and not something being done at the end.

In this article I will not get into how you measure this. You will somehow measure each value for each sprint and you can use it to detect if you are heading in the right direction and you can also capture trends/averages for overall release. At some point, I will write a full article about this.

Thank you,

Almir Mustafic

Microservice Architecture, but NOT microservice mindset?

Microservice Architecture, but NOT microservice mindset?
We are on the same team!
Let's say we as a company decide to implement the microservice architecture and we also decide to split the teams into domains for each team to own a domain (group of microservices). You may be a member of team A and I may be a member of team B and we are all on the same ship. There is a water leak in your area of the ship, but my side of the ship looks good.  What do we do? Let's help out each other because we are all members/passengers on the same ship. We are all going to the same destination :) Microservice teams were created to pave domain boundaries at the architectural level, but it does not mean that we should create boundaries among members of different domain team members. Yes, the API contracts are definitions for how our services communicate, but for the sake of final destination, we need to tear down those boundaries when it comes to approaching each other for help and proactive integration. It is beautiful to see ONE team in action especially in crunch time.

Almir Mustafic

Programming languages to teach students in high-school and university

Python-like or C-like as the language to introduce programming to students in high school and university? The question is: Do you introduce programming concepts to high-school/university students using languages that handle memory and other things for you or do you start introducing all of these concepts in languages like C that require you to understand all aspects. I will tell you what worked for me. I was introduced to programming in grade 10 using Basic programming language. There was a version called Better Basic and also Quick Basic. Then in grade 11 we learned procedural programming in a programming language called Turing (not Turing machine but a Pascal-like language developed by University of Toronto for teaching purposes). Then a year later, I started getting interested in C and C++. As you can see, I eased into the languages that introduced me to NULL exceptions and memory leaks :)
With this approach I was not overwhelmed and this set up the foundation for a fun journey in the software engineering field. However, everybody is different. What would work for majority?

Almir Mustafic

Language of Software Engineers and Scrum-master skills (quick thoughts)

Language of software engineers and skills of scrum-masters? All software developers speak the same language and that is pseudo-code :) However, there are still communication issues among software engineers specifically with other teams. That's where the role of great scrum-masters fits in. That great scrum-master does not necessarily need to be technical but he/she needs to have the skills of hearing roadblocks that engineers communicate in their technical language. I said "hearing" and hearing is not the same as listening. Listening is just a pre-requisite for hearing. Once you hear it, now you need to know how to action it and mobilize the right people. Coaching comes along with all of this, but that is a separate topic because it is also a responsibility of the tech manager. These skills separate great scrum-masters from others.
Almir Mustafic
P.S. Disclaimer: On any given day, I wear a hat of a solutions architect, engineer, scrum-master and tech manager.

Bugs in Software (quick thoughts)

Introducing bugs in your software applications? If you are a software engineer and you introduce a bug in your application, it might not be that bad.
Let me explain. The best bug you can introduce by accident is the one that fixes/heals an existing more serious problem and introduces a minor problem :) It is all about incremental improvements :)

Almir Mustafic

NoSQL (some quick thoughts)

NoSQL? If you are developing your applications for real-time interactions using NoSQL, you still need to pay attention to your data structure even though your database does not enforce it. Your model classes in your choice of programming language are your contract because that NoSQL data has to eventually end up into some form of relational database when you decide to report on it.

Almir Mustafic

Authenticity (some quick thoughts)

Authenticity - Step back and think about what makes projects successful; it is not all metrics looking good; it is about intangibles that you can't measure. It is the authenticity of certain individuals, their approaches, and how they let their energy radiate within the team. Recognizing their authenticity is the key to success.
Almir Mustafic

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Quick Thoughts — If Programming ~= Software Engineering ??

Programming is an act of giving a machine some instructions so it can perform things repeatedly.
Software engineering is an act of programming and everything else that goes along with it in order to deliver enterprise software to production.
Within software engineering, the more time you spend coding your applications and less worrying about DevOps things and processes, the better for you. Make sure you are heading in the right direction.
In conclusion, if the act of software engineering was close to the act of programming, then you basically reached that ultimate point in developers’ eyes. Wasn’t the original goal of cloud computing to abstract things for developers so you can ideally only focus on writing code?
Almir Mustafic

Quick Tip — Building layers of cake in Software Development world

Software Engineering — Building layers of the cake instead of slices of the cake. In software development you could go into separate rooms and build slices of a cake and combine it all into a single cake hoping to have a good cake.
The following alternative is better. Build layers of the cake and that will naturally lead itself to early integrations, early visibility to software functionality from the product management and the end user point of view.
Isn’t this what agility is all about?
Almir Mustafic

Quick Tip — Design for Plan A or A+B

Design for Plan A or Plan A+B?
Should you design your system with defensive Plan-B mindset or should you keep it simple thinking optimistically? I don’t think the answer is yes or no.
I am talking about the case where you prefer plan A, but the confidence level is not there yet. I think you can design it clean and simple with with hooks in your code so you can harness or feature toggle the plan B functionality. If plan A is chosen then all you need to do is clean up the hooks for the harness or feature toggle that was not needed. Nothing to lose, but you need to have the discipline to clean the unnecessary code when the dust settles down.
Thank you for reading.
Almir Mustafic

NO Feature Branches in GitHub?

Imagine the world in which feature branches don’t exist. Imagine the world where you don’t delay your code integration (code merges) until 11th hour and you deal with it on daily basis. Imagine the world of just main trunk development in GitHub and development mindset and development capabilities that allow your teammates to see your code sooner rather than later. Pay me now or pay me later is what one of my friends has been saying.
Yes, this goes against what everybody is doing out there, but it is worth exploring. It requires the right mindset and technical skills. It ultimately boils down to the following advice that I always give to fellow developers:
  • * Regardless of what branch you are in, when you check in or commit your code changes, pretend that these changes will go into production right away. Then ask yourself a question if my code will negatively impact customers and will it change the customer experience if product team wasn’t intending to do so yet. If the answer to above question is Yes, then you are not doing it the right way. Did you stub out your code or used feature toggle approach?
Thank you for reading this short article.
Almir Mustafic

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Programming, Software Engineering and DevOps — Time spent on coding?

Software Engineering…
Programming is an act of giving a machine some instructions so it can perform things repeatedly. Software engineering is an act of programming and everything else that goes along with it in order to deliver enterprise software to production.
Within software engineering, the more time you spend coding your applications and less worrying about DevOps things and processes, the better for you. Make sure you are heading in the right direction.
Let’s say you use a cloud platform to run your applications. The whole point of a cloud platform was to abstract things for developers in order to spend more time coding applications and less worrying about how to set up the resources in the cloud platform. So if you are hiring a lot of DevOps experts, then it means that the platform itself did not abstract the cloud enough.
In conclusion if the act of software engineering is close to the act of programming, then you basically reached that ultimate point where your technical teams are spending more and more time coding and less setting up and managing the resources in the cloud platform that the cloud platform is supposed to handle for you.
Thank you for reading.
Almir Mustafic

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Brand New programming language and one solution OR …

Brand New programming language and one solution
Two existing programming languages, one solution for EACH?
I understand that there is no right or wrong. It all depends on your software architecture, team structure, team skills and other factors, but I still want to explain the scenario as it may look familiar to some.
Let me explain.
Let’s assume that you have microservices and common libraries in two major programming languages. You have some teams who are experts in one and some teams experts in the other programming language. Now you need to come up with a solution for a scenario that all teams will need to leverage.
Let’s assume that your cloud platform has an off-the-shelf approach for this but it is supported by a 3rd programming language that your teams do not have much experience in.
What is the right thing for your organization and not just from the technical point of view?
A) Do you embrace what your cloud platform gives you off the shelf and implement this with the 3rd programming language and train the teams on this new language?
B) Do you implement a custom solution with one of the two programming languages, but what happens to 50% of your teams that are not familiar with that language? Should they learn it?
C) Do you implement a custom solution for BOTH of the programming languages? That means that you end up with two implementations of it, but possibly one reference architecture.
At the end of the day, these are good problems to have :)
Thank you for reading.
Almir Mustafic.

Office layout and your desks?

Imagine an office environment in which you get a new desk randomly assigned to you every week.
I wonder how that would impact people’s productivity, and would that make employees walk more to their teammates? Or they would start relying more on tools like Slack, Skype for Business and similar?
I am sure it varies from employee to employee, but I wonder if anybody did any extensive studies on this.
I am curious about this because I was excited every time I moved from desk to desk during floor re-orgs. Maybe the increase of frequency would have different effects??
Almir Mustafic

POCs ??

Imagine the world of software architecture where every POC becomes a production software without changes. That’s one extreme.
Now imagine the opposite where no POCs get done and no free innovation happens and everything has to be 110% planned and build perfect from day one.
If you and your team can take the good aspects of both extremes and combine into one nice approach, then you will innovate and that innovation will turn into enterprise worthy software.
Thank you for reading.
Almir Mustafic

Great coder != Great software engineer

Great coder != Great software engineer
How do you change that sign into an “=” sign?
As a software engineer out of college, your initial goals are to get use to the professional working environment.
Once you get passed that first hurdle, then it is all about the programming or coding skills. You want to improve your .NET C# skills or Java skills or NodeJS skills or Python skills or database skills. You want to learn the frameworks around these programming languages better and you want to learn different ways to optimize your code and apply different design patterns in your implementations. These are great skills to have and in a lot of cases required skills to have. The most important thing is that you are enjoying what you are doing.
At this point you have reached that level that will give you the right to label yourself as a great coder or a great programmer. However, there is still more to go. At this time your main focus is programming and you may be lucky that your technical lead and software engineering manager are abstracting a lot of things for you and shielding you so you can focus on programming most of your work day.
Don’t feel rushed that you need to advance vertically in your career. You need to feel comfortable where you are, and you need to follow your gut feel. When it’s time for you expand your horizon, it is your choice to make. It is all part of becoming a great software engineer.
Now it’s time. Willingness to listen and learn from other senior software engineers, tech leads, solutions architects and software engineering managers is the key to turning yourself from a good coder into a good software engineer. This is the type of stuff you cannot easily google. You need to be patient. You have to approach it with open mind and realize that there is no book “Experience in a Nutshell” that can help you expedite this process. After some time doing things the right way becomes the second nature. In fact, it later becomes harder to NOT do things the right way.
What you will learn is:
  • * What it takes to develop and deploy robust applications at the enterprise level to production and then maintain it in production.
  • * SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle)
As you learn more and more and software engineering concepts come as second nature to you, that’s when you know you graduated and joined the club of great software engineers.
Thank you for reading. Please follow me here on Medium.com or check out my personal site: http://www.almirsCorner.com
Almir Mustafic

Knowing the limitations of an architecture is the key to preventing technical debt

Monolithic applications. Microservices.
There are different types of architectures and they all have their pros and cons. Believing that one type of architecture ONLY has advantages and no disadvantages is not going to help your team and your organization.
For instance, the microservice architecture has a lot of advantages, but if you don’t understand the microservice to microservice dependencies, it can easily get out of control and it becomes a disadvantage.
When pros and cons of a specific approach are summarized at the beginning of a given project, what gets forgotten is noting down the disadvantages and making sure that they don’t turn into technical debt for your tech teams.
It is very acceptable to have limitations in your architecture or a specific part of your system as there is not such thing as perfect architecture. We are always on the path to achieve that architecture elegance and staying on that path without reaching the perfect elegance is a norm in software engineering dynamic environment.
Now it is time to review your architecture and note down these limitations and put checks and balances around them in order to prevent these limitations turning into technical debt and spreading through the healthy components of your architecture. Knowing and controlling your limitations is the key to preventing technical debt.
Thank you for reading.
Almir Mustafic