Serverless - Part Two

After describing event-driven and serverless systems in part one it is time to write some code. Well, almost. The first task is a walking skeleton: some code that runs on production infrastructure to prove we could have a CI pipeline.

I think I'll roll my AWS credentials pretty frequently now - since I can't imagine I'll get through this series without leaking my keys somehow


Putting authentication and authorisation to one side, because the chunk is too big otherwise, this task is to write a command channel to allow editors to propose destinations on the visitplannr system.

This requires the set up of API Gateway, AWS Lambda, and DynamoDB infrastructure and showing some code running. But doesn't require DynamoDB table streams or more than one lambda.

That feels like a meaningful slice.

Serverless - Part One

Anyone who knows me knows that I like to talk about Event-driven systems. And that I'm very excited about serverless systems in utility computing.

I started my career in I.T. having to order network cables, care about fuses, and plan storage and compute capacity. It was slow, frustrating, and if you got it wrong it could take (best case scenario!) days to correct.

Over a few articles I hope to communicate what serverless is, why you should find it exciting, and how to start using it.

Let's start by defining our terms…

Is where we're going where we're going

Velocity is…

A way of measuring the progress being made by a software team. Not all teams use velocity. I've been on quite a few that do. So at least some teams still use it as a measure.


On Twitter I…

…made a toot-storm about using construction as a metaphor for software engineering.

I've never really got on with construction metaphors for software. The cost of mistakes and rework is high in construction

the toot itself

This isn't saying that Software isn't putting things together but rather I've seen people justify not 'being agile' by using construction metaphors.

posted on: 15 Oct 2017

Testing Meaning in HTML!

One of the benefits of generating a site as a static artefact (here using Jekyll but there are a gazillion tools) is that the finished product is a known quantity. Anything that's a known quantity can be tested!

A previous post in this series looked at testing the generated HTML for technical correctness… Things like if the HTML is well-formed or that links go to real destinations.

This post describes testing the meaning of the text in the generated HTML. Checking spelling, and keeping myself honest in my attempt to use more inclusive language.


(originally posted on the code computerlove blog. At the now unreachable link:

Experimenting with a "new" retro format

For our team's most recent retro we decided to try a new format to see how it affected our discussion. We thought we'd share it here in case it has value for other teams.

What is it?

A retrospective is a practice from XP described on the as

A practice which has an XP team asking itself, at the end of each iteration : What went well ? What could be improved ? What could we experiment with ?

We've recently had several discussions trying to focus on the real and perceived progress of our work and thought it would be beneficial to run the retro with a focus on the impact of our team's principles and practices. Specifically how they relate to delivery of value and speed of delivery.

Where we're going we don't need columns

A few years ago while waiting for a user group to start at the Manchester ThoughtWorks office I bothered a couple of the devs there about their board. That conversation, after a bit of fangling, led to my convincing the team I was on at the time to use a radar board to represent our backlog.

It allowed us to combine a fluid representation of the business's priorities with a physical representation of the cost of reorganising those priorities. But also, in a way you don't get with a columnar board, gave an immediate feedback mechanism when too much work had been proposed or accepted.

Apologies to the two ThoughtWorks devs if I misrepresent any of their good ideas as mine or my bad ideas as theirs.

Big Pile of Soil

During Kevin Rutherford's guided discussion on clean code at Agile Manchester 2017 we talked briefly about whether there was a difference between 'cleaning code' and 'clean code'.

I suggested that I might expect to have to make code dirtier on the road to making it cleaner. Being of the opinion that sometimes you need to add duplication in order to see your way to removing it.

As I am a creature of bad habit I jumped immediately into tortuous metaphor.


I've spent a great first day at Agile Manchester 2017. One of the slides at a talk from Anna Dick was the stand-out point of the day for me.

"Find a common language, don't rely on agile jargon"

Generating static AMP pages

AMP or Accelerated Mobile Pages is a Google-backed project that allows you to use restricted HTML to delivery static content quickly. Since AMP HTML is restricted it isn't a fit for every site.

Since this blog is published as static HTML articles it is a good candidate for publishing an AMP version. An open source AMP jekyll plugin was amended to add AMP versions of pages.

The major discovery was that the validation tooling around AMP is awesome. Compare that to Facebook Instant Articles where there is almost no validation tooling (that I could discover at least)…

This didn't feel like a topic that justified several posts so to avoid taking too long this is a bit of a whistle-stop tour of adding AMP pages to this blog.

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