Monday, June 23, 2008

Radiator construction at the Guardian - a guest post at

(click here to skip my introduction and go directly to the post)

The last project I did for ThoughtWorks was at Guardian News and Media, working on the redesign of their website. It should have been a dream project: I used to read the newspaper cover to cover, I'm really interested in media, and it's a chance to see what running one of the biggest websites in the UK is like. I was a bit shocked when I got there.

Like any software project, there were issues. The developers were doing their damnedest to meet some aggressive deadlines, the testers were writing automated tests like their lives depended on it, but something really wasn't gelling. It didn't seem to matter that the automated build that ran the functional tests was broken for days at a time. ThoughtWorkers the world over are capable of amazing amounts of discipline in software engineering. It felt like we weren't hitting that level and it wasn't clear why. What I did to try and fix this?

In the project room, there were 32 inch TV's on the walls to display the state of the website. It was just coincidence that the developers were housed next to the Guardian's excellent systems operations team. The developers had a Wi-Fi rabbit. It was no contest. Something had to be done. In the very first guest post on The Build Doctor, Michael Brunton-Spall picks up the story of how we built an Extreme Feedback Device called the Build Radiator.


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