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Dev of the Week: Johanna Rothman

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Dev of the Week: Johanna Rothman

· Agile Zone ·
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Every week here and in our newsletter, we feature a new developer/blogger from the  DZone community to catch up and find out what he or she is working on now and what's coming next. This week we're talking to Johanna Rothman, Agile expert, consultant, and author. Some of her most recent DZone posts include: 

Thanks for talking to us! What have you been working on lately?

Agile program management, the coordination of multiple projects in an agile and lean way. Some people call this "scaling" agile. It's program management. We know how to do program management, but agile program management is a little tricky. Applying agile and lean principles, especially when many organizations have not trained that many people is the tricky part.

You do management and Agile consulting, and you also have a lot of development experience under your belt. Have you always been Agile? If not, what was your development experience like before Agile?

No, I definitely was not agile back when I was a developer! I grew up with "structured design." That was the big buzzword when I was a developer. I always believed in small chunks, and delivering small chunks early and often, but I was supposed to design the whole darn thing first. I was so disappointed when my designs never worked when I put them together in reality. I thought it was just me. Ha!

I started to implement smaller pieces but not tell anyone about it. I'll never forget one seminal project, where I was the technical lead and the project manager. There were only three of us on the project. I asked the other people on the project to work with me on smaller deliverables. I explained, "I never get the architecture right the first time. It almost always takes me three times. So let's do a prototype and see what we get. Then we'll do something we can show the customer. Then we'll do one we can make beautiful."

We timeboxed our work (yes, I've been a fan of timeboxes forever), and we actually did do three iterations.

Are there any particular developer tools or resources you couldn't live without?

I love TextMate. I write my books using TextMate with a variety of bundles. If I was still writing code, it would be Emacs. (I've probably just started a religious war, right?) But for my purposes, TextMate works quite well.

Do you follow any blogs or Twitter feeds that you would recommend to developers?

I follow many people on Twitter. I recommend developers follow:

Did you have a coding first love -- a particular program, gadget, game, or language that set you on the path to life as a developer?

Ahem, Allen, I started coding *before* computers were ubiquitous. No, this is my story. I started in college as an undecided major, thinking I might be pre-med. But I didn't get all A's in my first hourly exams. There went med school! I knew I didn't want to major in a social science. I didn't know what I wanted to major in. So I started taking all kinds of classes.

My father suggested I take a computer science class. That was  back in the fall of 1974. That was it. I was hooked. I loved it. I graduated in the first class UVM graduated with a degree in Computer Science. There were 6 of us.

Anything else you'd like to mention?

I still think--every so often--in octal. Sometimes, I think in hex. I wrote in assembler language for years. I wrote device drivers,  and programmed programmable controllers. I do not want to return to the "good" (bad) old days. I'm delighted we have ways of doing things that make this work much easier.

Thanks, Johanna!

Check out Johanna's blog and Twitter!


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