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Presentation: Helping Developers to Help Each Other

Track: Developer Experience: Level up your Engineering Effectiveness

Location: Ballroom BC

Duration: 10:35am - 11:25am

Day of week: Wednesday

Level: Intermediate

Persona: Architect, Developer, General Software, Technical Engineering Manager

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Abstract

If you have ever asked yourself the question "Why did they do THAT!?" when wrestling with a developer’s work, this presentation is for you.

My doctoral research does not answer it, but it does refine the question; I have built a definition of what “THAT!” is by interviewing software developers with a total of more than 400 years of industry experience between them. In my presentation, I will share the common themes that emerged: what experienced developers said about the day to day decisions made by their peers and how these make the job harder or easier. 

These findings catalogue what constitutes “good practice” from the unique perspective of how it affects peers’ progress in their own tasks. But by itself, this catalogue does not change developer practice. In pursuit of improving developer experience, I have tested a workshop format that draws on the collective experience of the interviewees to help teams step back and reflect on their practice in a safe and encouraging environment. I will be explaining what these experimental workshops involved, why developers liked them and the potential the materials could have for other applications.

Acknowledgement: My research would not have been possible without the generous help of my participants. My heartfelt thanks to all the software developers who volunteered to take part and the companies who allowed them to do so. I hope you all benefited from the experience.

Speaker: Gail Ollis

Researcher & Lecturer in Cyberpsychology @bournemouthuni

Gail Ollis was a professional software developer for 20 years before asking “Why did they do THAT!?” one time too many and going off to take a psychology degree to try to find out. This led on to a PhD at Bournemouth University, U.K., where she has recently submitted her doctoral thesis Helping programmers to help each other: a technique to facilitate understanding among professional software developers. Like many postgraduate researchers, Gail took on part-time teaching work while studying for the PhD. This uncovered a love of teaching that rapidly spiralled into a new career. Gail is now a full-time lecturer at Bournemouth, bringing her interdisciplinary skills to teaching both programming and cyberpsychology.

Find Gail Ollis at

Tracks

Monday, 11 November

Tuesday, 12 November

Wednesday, 13 November