Learnings and reflections from Extreme Programming Conference!

Alvin Toffler, renowned American author, known also for his works discussing the "Digital revolution" once said "The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn."


At outset of my career I chose not to be modern illiterate :) hence I keep learning aggressively whenever I get chance, keep unlearning what is not relevant and keep relearning stuffs whenever required. With learning as a prominent goal in mind, I had a hectic but really productive learning weekends recently. It started with two days' workshop (24-25th July) on "High Impact Presentation" by Dale Carnegie Training conducted by Mindtree. Then two days' workshop (8-9th August) on "Extreme Programming Conference" by industry experts again conducted by Mindtree and finally attended "Judges Training Program" on 10th August conducted by Toastmasters International.

Out of these trainings I underwent, I thought it's my duty to share the knowledge I gained particularly from " Extreme Programming Conference"  (http://www.xpconference.in/) since it was Mindtree who gave me the opportunity to attend it and it would be relevant for most of you (needless to mention that you can contact me directly if you want me to share my experiences on other trainings as well :) ). I think it’s enough for we developers to know the terminology, rest we all are expert to dig into it with our Google god J. Hence, I will at least try to share all the terminologies that I learnt in this mail and references wherever possible.

eXtreme Programming is one of the agile software development method which is leveraged to improve software quality and responsiveness to changing customer requirements. It advocates frequent releases in short cycles to improve productivity.

eXtreme Programming Values
a.       Communication
b.      Simplicity
c.       Feedback
d.      Respect
e.      Courage

eXtreme Programming Philosophies
a.       Collective ownership
b.      Continuous delivery
c.       Sustainable pace

Sessions on Continuous delivery
Key takeaways were -
a.       Architecture can strangle CD in situations like
                                       i.      Non clustered architecture
                                     ii.      Blocking requests for long running steps
                                    iii.      Hardcoded IP addresses for endpoint IPs or linked server in Database
b.      Rotating teams frequently to cross pollinate knowledge  (tools + techniques) (like DevOps)
c.       Feature based trunk development instead of using branches.
d.      Every change to the system should be releasable. Should release any version at the push of a button.
e.      Never opt for branch based development, rather user trunk based.

Full stack developer (FSD) (near to DevOps)
FSD is capable of performing tasks at any level on entire tech stack. It may involve
a.       Infra
b.      API/Backend
c.       Query DB
d.      UI
e.      Project Mgt

They are also called Packaged Geek in eXtreme Programming.

Don't Branch in Continuous delivery
a.       Branching is not recommended in extreme Programming, which is being followed by company like Facebook & Google
b.      Only trunk based development is recommended
c.       Frequent check ins are allowed in single branch trunk
d.      Bugs should be fixed on trunk and merge with release branch
e.      Release branches are never merged back to trunk
f.        Release branches are short lived, frequently replaced by newer release branches

Then How to roll back in case of issues
                                       i.            Instead of branching, features should toggled on and off, as per requirement. Question - We should get rid of branching practice. Branching there are changes which may impact multiple places like presentation logic changes etc.
                                     ii.            As soon as a feature is released, get rid of it.
                                    iii.            Toggles are applied at UIs
                                   iv.            Features with no UI, the toggle will be in the app code
1.       Techniques like polymorphic substitution and dependency injection should be used to avoid crude conditional test
                                     v.            Pipelines for different permutations of toggles for releases should be setup
1.       IF either of the build fails, it implies a bad commit

Feature toggle types
                                       i.            Release - partial features, temporary
                                     ii.            Business - certain class of users, permanent
                                    iii.            Runtime - easier rollbacks, run tests with various configurations of features
                                   iv.            Build - new feature codebase is not compiled

Book Reference provided
Uncle Bob's  - Clean Coder & extreme programming in practice

The Coding Dojo Handbook - Emily

Also, I created a presentation out of it, here is the Slideshare link - 

Cloud Platforms adding Strength to Digital Solutions!


Cloud Platforms are getting stronger and humongous day by day. The two prominent cloud platforms that I got chance to work with and arguably the Market leaders - Microsoft with its Azure Cloud and Amazon with its Amazon Web Services (AWS), has a long list of services now offered through Cloud Platform. You can build Infrastructure, develop Web Apps & Mobile Apps, manage identity and access, do analytics, Internet of things, Database, IDEs and what not.april-hackathon-web-550x367

As a Digital Architect, I recently got chance to evaluate various offerings by cloud platform vendors and to recommend best ones as a part of Digital transformation being done for a customer. Following is what I went with and it looked to be a reasonable recommendations -

Infrastructure requirements – We opted for Azure VMs & Active Directory for managing servers. Every Digital WCM needs good amount of server resources, at the least 8 servers – Author and Publish instance for each DTAP (Dev, Test, Acceptance & Prod) environments. And if WCM is like Tridion, number may be more than double to support Dedicated Publisher, XPM and SmartTarget environments. Add to it another commonly used product for enterprise search like Solr, additional one server for each DTAP servers. Then add some DR servers and clustered servers for production. Did you realize, I have already reached to count of 40 servers Smile. Managing these many servers can be efficient only on Cloud.

Cache dynamic content – Its important that all the data being fed to Digital system is cached, it increases performance vastly. I have seen people caching static files and pages but forgetting the dynamic data, which becomes problem later on. Continuous improvements are going in Caching mechanisms, hence There are multiple option for Cloud Cache even from single vendor Azure, it has AppFabric, Managed Cache and Redis. We opted for Managed Cache, however Redis is the way forward.

Cache static files -  We opted for Azure CDN with origin server as Azure Storage to provide this solution. No Digital solutions now can live without CDN. Static files form huge chunk of the whole solution  for any Digital System. No customer are now ready to bear the latency of static files at any of their location due to non-availability of CDN.

Media files smooth rendering across browsers and devices – This is another important requirement any Digital transformation demands for. There are huge numbers of video types and browsers, some types may run on one browser but may not on other browsers or devices. To cater to this problem, Azure Platform offers something beautiful called Azure Media Services. Configure it with a origin server like Azure storage and it will do the rest of encoding, streaming, indexing etc

Email solution – Traditional emails servers are hard to manage and sometimes even not easily compatible with Cloud Platforms, hence we opted for cloud based email solution called SendGrid. it had seamless integration with Azure servers.

Azure Active Directory – Offers Single sign on facility, works with multiple platforms and devices, supports multi factor authentication.

The list of Cloud offerings for Digital platform is too long, but I have listed only those which I had used in the recent Digital Transformation. Thank you!