Category Archives: Uncategorized

How I debrief workshops

I have tried to create a simple process for debriefing workshops. This is the current process I use, and I think it may be useful for others.

  1. I give everyone sticky notes with three colors
  2. I ask everyone to write “a thing that surprised you about the workshop”, “a thing that you learned today” and “a thing that you plan to do as a result of the workshop”. Each question goes on a different color sticky note.
  3. Everyone puts their sticky notes on a flip chart. As people come up, I read through their notes and pick out some notes that I think were interesting to discuss
  4. When everyone has put up their answers, I read up 1-3 notes about what surprised the participants, 1-3 notes about what they learned and 1-3 notes about what they plan to use it for. I comment on these results.
  5. As I end the workshop, I tell everyone “now, pick up the note with your plan as you leave the room and put it in your pocket. When you find it in the future, ask yourself whether you have completed it, or whether you should put it back into your pocket

"What surprised you", "what have you learned", "what do you plan to do"

I feel this gives a nice closure to the workshop and a drive for people to apply what they’ve learned. Have you been to one of my workshops where I had this debriefing? I’d like to know whether you used the “what do you plan” note. :-)

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Making FitNesse Maven friendly (now with Slim)

Update Thanks to Alan Palmer for this trick that makes this whole post unnecessary: If you use
!path {java.class.path}
You get the classpath that fitnesse was called with, without the need for changing the fitnesse code.

Regular readers of my blog may remember that I’ve researched how to get the classpath from the FitNesse-process inherited by the Fit process that FitNesse spawns when it runs a test. This trick is an easy way to get around having to specify classpath variables in your FitNesse tests. This blogposts provides an easier way, plus compatibility with the new Slim testrunner in FitNesse.

This is the basic process:

  1. Create a Maven project with a dependency on your System Under Test in addition to FitNesse.
  2. Insert a few bootstrap files and classes into the project (to be explained)
  3. Start fitnesse.FitNesse as a main class in the project
  4. All classes in the project and its dependencies will now be available in Fixture classes

This article uses the 20081115 version of FitNesse, which is not yet in the Maven repository. To get it yourself, download it from the FitNesse website.

The problem

Fixing the classpath is exceedingly simple. But you need to understand a bit of the inner workings of FitNesse to get it to work. When you press the “test” button on a test, or the suite button on a test suite, FitNesse instantiates a class based on the registered “responder”. Our first order of business is to override this, but in order to do that, we need to take control over FitNesse.

You can do this by adding fitnesse.jar and fitlibrary.jar to your classpath, either manually in Eclipse, or by using a Maven dependency on org.fitnesse:fitnesse and org.fitnesse:fitlibrary.

Once FitNesse is in you IDE’s classpath, you can run the Java class “fitnesse.FitNesse”. This starts FitNesse on port 80. Navigate to, say “http://localhost/MyFirstTest”, and you’re ready to add a test.

In order to get it to work, though, you will have to do something like the following:

Ugh! Bad FitNesse!

The solution

What actually happens when you press “test” is that FitNesse creates and executes a Responder class. You can override a responder by adding a file called to the current working directory. Here is an example of such a file:

As you can see, I replace the test-responder with my own subclass. Here is the code of the InheritClasspathTestResponder for the very latest version of FitNesse:

For older versions of FitNesse, you can instead override the buildCommand method as follows:

This works both with both the original Fit test runner and the new Slim test runner. To try it out with a Slim runner, insert the following into a test page:

(Notice that Uncle Bob’s article introducting Slim mistakenly !defines TEST_RUNNER. The correct variable is TEST_SYSTEM)


In my original experiment, I also managed to get debugging support for FitNesse. This is how it works:

  1. After running a test, replace the part ?test in the URL with ?debug. The page will look like it’s hanging while the server is waiting for the debugger.
  2. In your IDE, attach a remote debugger to the Fit-process.
  3. You can now debug your code just as normal

This turned out to be a lot harder with the newest version of FitNesse. To support Slim, this version introduces the concept of TestSystem classes, of which there are two implementations, FitTestSystem and SlimTestSystem. These classes build up the (Java) command line to execute the test runner.

As of the current version of FitNesse, there is no plugin point to put new implementations of TestSystem, so I had to change TestResponder implementation of performExecution quite a bit. The original has some caching and other freaky stuff which I finally gave up trying to override. Sadly, my implementation only works for Slim. For some reason, overriding FitTestSystem#buildCommand causes FitNesse to hang. So: Use at your own risk.

To install the code, you have to modify the file described above:

Here is the awful implementation of DebugTestResponder. I’ll see if I can get changes implemented in FitNesse to make it easier.

In conclusion

It is possibly, you could even say easy, to make Maven and FitNesse play nice. The trick with InheritClasspathTestResponder shows how you can stop maintaining the FitNesse classpath separate from the Maven classpath, which makes FitNesse into just another main-class in your system.

Sadly, the structure around the new TestSystem classes needs a little improvement to support debugging.

Posted in English, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

I’m moderating the IfI alumni open source debate

The alumni organization from my old university is arranging a debate about open source, and I’ll be moderating. The debate will be next Wednesday at Scotsman in downtown Oslo.

There will be a four person panel, with two skeptics and two open source fans. So far, the panel looks as follows:

  • Heidi Arnesen Austlid, Friprogsenteret
  • Per Hove, Oracle Norge
  • Shahzad Rana, Questpoint
  • An exciting surprise!

The event will be held in The Scotsman, where they sell beer! And there will be free pizza! Free code, free beer, free pizza!

More information

Hope to see you there.

The text of this blogpost was shamelessly ripped of Ferris’s blog and patched slightly

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

The Smidig 2008 conference is this week!

Smidig 2008, 9. - 10. oktober, Oslo Kongressenter

In the middle of changing jobs, I have also been quite busy with the last minute preparations for the Smidig 2008 conference for the Oslo Agile user community (“smidig” being the closest Norwegian translation of “agile”).

The conference be two days of lightning talks before lunch and open spaces after lunch. The program is in the final stages of being finalized as we speak.

There are still a few open seats. We’ve structured the price so that we don’t need to sell out to avoid losing money. But we want to make sure that as many people as possible take advantage of the opportunity to learn and discuss with a large number of other practitioners of agile software development.

You can sign up at Hope I see you there!

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

I received an overwhelmingly warm welcome as the new chief scientist at Steria

I am changing employers. As of October 1st, I will no longer be lead software architect at BBS Nordic. Instead, I will be the chief scientist at the Norwegian division of Steria.

This weekend, I was invited to join my new employer at their gathering at a resort in the south of Norway. I’ve had a chance to speak with a lot of my new colleagues, and I was overwhelmed by the number of skilled, thoughtful and friendly people.

Steria has lots of very talented people, and I’m still looking for the best way to help the organization in my new role. I hope I can personally teach a lot of people the architecture and testing techniques that I’ve learned over the last years, and I hope I can help the people who actually produce the results that are needed at the end of the day get a stronger voice with our management and our customers.

Watch the thrilling story: What happens when you take a domesticated programmer out of his natural habitat and put him into a new world. Will be be overwhelmed by the differences, or will he be a new invasive species in the foreign ecosystem?

(Yes: I will insist that my proper title should still be JustAprogrammer. How long will I get away with it?)

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments


I just watched another amazing talk from the TED conference. Spencer Wells is a natural public speaker. He talks about where we all, as a species, came from. Amazingly enough, everyone who is alive today share a common ancestor in Africa no more than about 2000 generations, or 60,000 years ago. Wells describes the fascinating questions and their answers, as we know them today.

The TED conference is full of remarkable talks. Here are some of my absolute favorites:


Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Ben Zander: Presentation with shining eyes

The TED conference has some amazing talks. If you never knew you were interested in car seats for children, classical music, or feet (yeah!), some of these talks will blow you mind.

A recent video that really moved me was Benjamin Zander, the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic. His insights and inspiration is invaluable for everyone who considers themselves a leader.

“The conductor doesn’t make a sound, he depends for his power on the ability to make other people powerful… I realized that my job was to awaken possibility in other people.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment