Reading up on RailsRumble, I found Raymond Law’s RailsRumble 2008 post-mortem.

Raymond writes:

Forget about writing tests – Look, I am in support of agile and test-driven development, with one exception. That is, you are not participating in RailsRumble. There’s just no time for it. If you are a good enough programmer, you can build a small application with no tests. If you can’t, I don’t want to work with you. Writing tests for a new application starting from scratch in just 48 hours is simple not feasible. No bargain!

Raymond Law in RailsRumble 2008

Sorry Raymond, but that is plain crazy. We took the time to write tests, and it gave us confidence. We even ended up with a 1:1.9 ratio of code to test. I do believe in agile (like you do), and I was really happy for those tests. Especially as we got more and more tired, the tests were a safety vest that kept us afloat while time was running out.

No ticketing system like Unfuddle and Lighthouse – One team member had tried to use Unfuddle to create tickets to get ourselves more organized. While it was a sincere attempt, it simply didn’t work. There’s no time to accept a ticket, create a new ticket, … We pretty much abandoned it soon after we started.

Raymond Law in RailsRumble 2008

We used Pivotal Tracker to organize our stories. As Raymond said, he didn’t have a lot of time to plan ahead of the competition. We got together 10 days prior to the competition and we used Pivotal Tracker to remember a lot of things for us. Accepting a story was as simple as clicking Start. I think having the stories spelled out gave us another safety vest by keeping us focused and on track.

Before the rumble, I didn’t know about Pivotal Tracker, but now that I do, I’ll be sure to use it more and more. It was a very low ceremony way to remember things. Even while coding the tests for a story, if we uncovered a missing requirement, we just Apple-Tab’d to Pivotal Tracker, added the story, Apple-Tab’d back and went on.

Hope you had a great weekend!


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I am François Beausoleil, a Ruby on Rails and Scala developer. During the day, I work on Seevibes, a platform to measure social interactions related to TV shows. At night, I am interested many things. Read my biography.

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