New “teamX” development methodology

Oh, now I get why Jeff Sandquist got his new Xbox and invited us over for pizza. He’s trying out a new team development methodology. See, along with me and my son he also invited Adam Kinney and Erik Porter over. They are two developers on the http://microsoftgadgets.com and Channel 9. I didn’t realize they were working tonight at first, but here’s how I caught on.

They would switch off playing games. Erik would jump on the Xbox, play a couple of games, then hand the controller to Adam, who would play a couple of more. I was distracted with my new phone, so didn’t see that while these two weren’t on the Xbox they were jumping on a laptop on Jeff’s kitchen table (here’s a picture of Erik coding away). Eventually I noticed this pattern and asked them what was up. Oh, and I noticed that Visual Studio was on the screen with source code.

Turns out they were fixing bugs in the site. The Xbox game was reward for knocking out a bug in the code.

Somewhere, someone should be studying whether the Xbox actually helps productivity of coders. Hey, it’s an interesting theory. Either way, the bugs got fixed and the development team seems happier than usual.

Jeff calls it the “frag-ile” development methodology. Heheh. I call it innovative program management.

Oh, and don’t miss the Gadgets site — there’s a lot of interesting stuff happening over there. The Microsoft Gadgets site is the first Microsoft site to feature user tagging. Also, the growth in that community is quite rapid. Lots of new gadgets have been added by non-Microsoft developers in the past couple of weeks.

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38 thoughts on “New “teamX” development methodology

  1. you know, i can’t help but notice that all the reasons people like xbox 360 are the exact same reason i loved pc gaming back in the day. it’s the community aspect.

    microsoft is making it retardly easy to have communites. no more clan sites, custom sigs in forums with your preformance figures. jesus christ it was a mess.

    xbox live! is what’s “revolutionary” about the 360. i simply didn’t see it until now because i’ve been doing things like xbox live for YEARS

    you posted a while back, something along the lines of “is xbox 360 a web 2.0 product?” well… my answer to you is yes!

    btw, when and where is the CES geek dinner?

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  2. you know, i can’t help but notice that all the reasons people like xbox 360 are the exact same reason i loved pc gaming back in the day. it’s the community aspect.

    microsoft is making it retardly easy to have communites. no more clan sites, custom sigs in forums with your preformance figures. jesus christ it was a mess.

    xbox live! is what’s “revolutionary” about the 360. i simply didn’t see it until now because i’ve been doing things like xbox live for YEARS

    you posted a while back, something along the lines of “is xbox 360 a web 2.0 product?” well… my answer to you is yes!

    btw, when and where is the CES geek dinner?

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  3. The Xbox game was reward for knocking out a bug in the code.

    Knowing MFST code, I guess they will be playing LOTS and LOTS of games then. πŸ˜‰ But making sure bugs aren’t there, correct-by-construction, more the methodology over gushy ‘caffiene-fueled bug-fix Xboxology hack-upping’ sessions.

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  4. The Xbox game was reward for knocking out a bug in the code.

    Knowing MFST code, I guess they will be playing LOTS and LOTS of games then. πŸ˜‰ But making sure bugs aren’t there, correct-by-construction, more the methodology over gushy ‘caffiene-fueled bug-fix Xboxology hack-upping’ sessions.

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  5. Hey R, does it not come up at all for you or what? It’s working fine here at home.

    Christopher Coulter, it really depends on what type of applications you’re building, how fast you need them done, etc. In the ideal world we would’ve taken 6 months to plan and build MicrosoftGadgets.com, but in reality we just had a couple weeks and two guys staying up late trying to build a great application. If you’ve got some feedback on the site, we’d love to hear it. πŸ™‚

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  6. Hey R, does it not come up at all for you or what? It’s working fine here at home.

    Christopher Coulter, it really depends on what type of applications you’re building, how fast you need them done, etc. In the ideal world we would’ve taken 6 months to plan and build MicrosoftGadgets.com, but in reality we just had a couple weeks and two guys staying up late trying to build a great application. If you’ve got some feedback on the site, we’d love to hear it. πŸ™‚

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  7. Well, I was talking in general, Six Sigma (for software) styled and correct-by-construction, over the “code and fix” approach. More the Kestrel Institute flavor, instead of the arrogant Myhrvold concept of ‘blame the End User’ for (gasp) wanting features.

    But specific to your site, “couple weeks…two guys staying up late” — this from the biggest software company in the world? Forgive me if I don’t buy that. Why then should I even bother? As obviously, as you just said, it’s just a hacked-together kludge (and now in-between Xbox sessions). Plus far more use outta the prior art of Dashboard, DesktopX, Konfabulator. Cry me a river about your internal pressures, think external. Just shows (to me) how half-baked Windows Live really is.

    It was an amazing thing to watch tho, all the Softie’s revisionist histories, claiming they actually thought of it all, per the Microsoft Research’s ‘Sideshow’ project.

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  8. Well, I was talking in general, Six Sigma (for software) styled and correct-by-construction, over the “code and fix” approach. More the Kestrel Institute flavor, instead of the arrogant Myhrvold concept of ‘blame the End User’ for (gasp) wanting features.

    But specific to your site, “couple weeks…two guys staying up late” — this from the biggest software company in the world? Forgive me if I don’t buy that. Why then should I even bother? As obviously, as you just said, it’s just a hacked-together kludge (and now in-between Xbox sessions). Plus far more use outta the prior art of Dashboard, DesktopX, Konfabulator. Cry me a river about your internal pressures, think external. Just shows (to me) how half-baked Windows Live really is.

    It was an amazing thing to watch tho, all the Softie’s revisionist histories, claiming they actually thought of it all, per the Microsoft Research’s ‘Sideshow’ project.

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  9. Christopher, I’m honestly not sure what you’re talking about. Are you saying applications can’t be written well unless it’s architected for a long time? I’m confused. Is there only one way to write software? 😐

    Anyway, this release was a lot of fun (despite a few long nights [our choice actually]) and very end user oriented.

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  10. Christopher, I’m honestly not sure what you’re talking about. Are you saying applications can’t be written well unless it’s architected for a long time? I’m confused. Is there only one way to write software? 😐

    Anyway, this release was a lot of fun (despite a few long nights [our choice actually]) and very end user oriented.

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  11. …and then you topped off the night by braiding each other’s hair and talked about what it would be like to kiss bill gates.

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  12. …and then you topped off the night by braiding each other’s hair and talked about what it would be like to kiss bill gates.

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  13. I have been playing with live and getting use to it. I am going to be reviewing it on my podcast first part of the year. One feature I would like to see is make it part of the desktop so that I don’t always have to open a browser. Make it my active desktop. Is there away to do this? Also make the gadgets life while an active desktop?

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  14. I have been playing with live and getting use to it. I am going to be reviewing it on my podcast first part of the year. One feature I would like to see is make it part of the desktop so that I don’t always have to open a browser. Make it my active desktop. Is there away to do this? Also make the gadgets life while an active desktop?

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  15. Erik, they only run in a browser window. That makes them rather crippled for anything but a Web portal site, and those are a big “who cares”.

    When gadgets can run OUTSIDE of a browser, then they start to become interesting. When they can run outside of a browser on multiple platforms, then you’re taking the lead.

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  16. Erik, they only run in a browser window. That makes them rather crippled for anything but a Web portal site, and those are a big “who cares”.

    When gadgets can run OUTSIDE of a browser, then they start to become interesting. When they can run outside of a browser on multiple platforms, then you’re taking the lead.

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  17. Erik Porter or Scoble: This may seem like rhetorical sarcasm, but it’s an honest question. How come Gadgets, Windows Live, Live Mail, My Xbox, etc. are all done by rather small teams? Doesn’t Microsoft have like 15000 employees? Are they all doing PR? I know there are a lot on the Office and Windows teams, but really. The MAJOR announcements from Microsoft this year were mostly about small team products and at least a few mentioned they had to do lots of all night coding and meet tough deadlines. Maybe Microsoft could cut that 15k down to 1500? πŸ˜‰

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  18. Erik Porter or Scoble: This may seem like rhetorical sarcasm, but it’s an honest question. How come Gadgets, Windows Live, Live Mail, My Xbox, etc. are all done by rather small teams? Doesn’t Microsoft have like 15000 employees? Are they all doing PR? I know there are a lot on the Office and Windows teams, but really. The MAJOR announcements from Microsoft this year were mostly about small team products and at least a few mentioned they had to do lots of all night coding and meet tough deadlines. Maybe Microsoft could cut that 15k down to 1500? πŸ˜‰

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  19. J. Welch,

    I disagree about gadgets running outside of the browser being more useful. I’m running OS X at home and the only time I ever go into the Dashboard is when I hit the function key for it accidentally. It takes so long to start up, it’s not worth it. You also say “When they can run outside of a browser on multiple platforms, then you’re taking the lead.”. I recently re-installed Yahoos Widget engine at work to see what has changed. Nothing, it’s still a big memory hog. 6MB PER WIDGET?! And I’m supposed to run a lot of widgets?! WTF? Heck, devenv.exe on my machine only takes up 34MB. To paraphrase Bill Gates, “Are you telling me this devenv.exe is 4 WIDGETS!”

    Nah, I spend the majority of my time in either an IDE or in a web browser. For me, and most people I think, being able to run widgets on a home page is much better. Less start up time, takes up less system memory, less is more.

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  20. J. Welch,

    I disagree about gadgets running outside of the browser being more useful. I’m running OS X at home and the only time I ever go into the Dashboard is when I hit the function key for it accidentally. It takes so long to start up, it’s not worth it. You also say “When they can run outside of a browser on multiple platforms, then you’re taking the lead.”. I recently re-installed Yahoos Widget engine at work to see what has changed. Nothing, it’s still a big memory hog. 6MB PER WIDGET?! And I’m supposed to run a lot of widgets?! WTF? Heck, devenv.exe on my machine only takes up 34MB. To paraphrase Bill Gates, “Are you telling me this devenv.exe is 4 WIDGETS!”

    Nah, I spend the majority of my time in either an IDE or in a web browser. For me, and most people I think, being able to run widgets on a home page is much better. Less start up time, takes up less system memory, less is more.

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  21. Oh, and it’s just as easy to switch to a browser window to view my widgets as it is to switch to Dashboard or Konfabulizeator (or whatever they call it)

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  22. Oh, and it’s just as easy to switch to a browser window to view my widgets as it is to switch to Dashboard or Konfabulizeator (or whatever they call it)

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  23. Christopher, I’m honestly not sure what you’re talking about.

    It was a philosophical comment about programming methodology. Small-team “code and fix” and Patch Management vs. More Measured Approaches, ‘correct by construction’, modular and high-level’s like C#, that simply prevent bugs at the onset and etc.

    Sure many methods, but differing results too. I thought Softies debated/hashed this stuff out as a daily rote, what with Amitabh Srivastava’s toolsets, the Reliability Group at the Center for Software Excellence and the MFST’s cofounding of Sustainable Computing Consortium. Guess not…

    Two guys, in between Xbox sessions, coding up a storm on the quick, in-between video game breaks, how so Web 2.0. πŸ˜‰

    Like

  24. Christopher, I’m honestly not sure what you’re talking about.

    It was a philosophical comment about programming methodology. Small-team “code and fix” and Patch Management vs. More Measured Approaches, ‘correct by construction’, modular and high-level’s like C#, that simply prevent bugs at the onset and etc.

    Sure many methods, but differing results too. I thought Softies debated/hashed this stuff out as a daily rote, what with Amitabh Srivastava’s toolsets, the Reliability Group at the Center for Software Excellence and the MFST’s cofounding of Sustainable Computing Consortium. Guess not…

    Two guys, in between Xbox sessions, coding up a storm on the quick, in-between video game breaks, how so Web 2.0. πŸ˜‰

    Like

  25. Scott, a bad or suboptimal implementation doesn’t invalidate the idea. Those just give you a list of things NOT to do.

    Most disk-based MP3 players sucked prior to the iPod. Now, the ones that people buy don’t. Obviously, even with a craptacular first implementation, there was still a good idea there.

    As well, considering you spend most of your time “in an IDE”, let’s just say that “people like you” and “most people” are mutually exclusive phrases.

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  26. Scott, a bad or suboptimal implementation doesn’t invalidate the idea. Those just give you a list of things NOT to do.

    Most disk-based MP3 players sucked prior to the iPod. Now, the ones that people buy don’t. Obviously, even with a craptacular first implementation, there was still a good idea there.

    As well, considering you spend most of your time “in an IDE”, let’s just say that “people like you” and “most people” are mutually exclusive phrases.

    Like

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  28. Aveta Solutions – Six Sigma Online offers online six sigma training and certification classes for lean six sigma, black belts, green belts, and yellow belts. Payment Plans available.

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