The endless talk about quality in Agile Teams

What quality means for Developers (please read Testers, Analysts, Dev, Ops…) in an Agile team is definitely an endless talk. I could write tons of lines about it but I can also tell you that having the discussion is an excellent start. Too many teams rely only on the process and not the practices. In Scrum for example we do not prescribe any engineering practices but the most performing teams are implementing a lot of them in order to deliver a high value product on a long term basis. It’s a fact.

So, how do we define quality ?

If you look at Clean Code‘s first pages you will see this : “The total cost of owning a mess”. Please read it, print it, sign it and display it on your wall. In only one page and one chart Uncle Bob sum it all. We have all experienced this in projects once. When we start compromising the code maintenability to be faster in delivering features. Until it’s too late to fix the mess. In agile projects we call this technical debt. Technical debt is a whole, not only the fact that the code is a mess. In general, when you have some the product backlog is also a mess in general. So, quality is finally a sum of good technical choices taken at every step of the software development. As a team it’s your responsibility to envision your architecture, take time to think of every choice but also admit the fact that it will evolve, move, live.

My Basic definition of Quality

  • A Working Software continuously delivered to Users
  • Good Technical choices implementing a maximum of the quality attributes : extensibility, maintenability, testability, security…
  • No tolerance for bugs in production
  • Being able to manage the debt

Don’t forget the principles !

Back to basis. Do you remember the agile manifesto? Yes you read it once. Now let’s look at some principles we probably forgot that will help us regarding quality.

Continuous attention to technical excellence
and good design enhances agility.

Simplicity–the art of maximizing the amount
of work not done–is essential.

The best architectures, requirements, and designs
emerge from self-organizing teams.

At regular intervals, the team reflects on how
to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts
its behavior accordingly.

In a following post we’ll go deeper in those principles and see how difficult it can be to implement them.


Be better : Train your brain and have fun coding

Feel bored working on legacy code? Spending your day working on old frameworks and codebase? Implementing functionalities that are not asking more than 2% of your brain? No challenges in what you are doing? Ok I’ve got you covered. The web is full of fun ways of practicing and reactivating your neurons while coding.


Probably the largest online community to practice and improve your coding skills. You can find dozens of puzzles to solve with various levels of difficulty. The cool thing here is you can play against people and enter into leagues.

Few tips:

  • Start with some simple puzzles to understand how it works.
  • Use your favorite platform (Visual Studio, Eclipse…) to take advantage of the intellisense and simply copy/paste your code into the codingame interface.
  • Have good fun programming bots : Code Buster & Tron are my favorites !
  • Take a break with your team and compete with each others around some bot programming. You just need to follow each other and show the leaderboard by filtering on people you follow.

Let’s go :


Rise For Fun

RISE is the acronym for Microsoft Research in Software Engineering based in Redmond. They developed pex, a simple tool that automatically generates test suites with high code coverage using automated white box analysis. They are basically working on innovations that will impact our work as programmers. Huge commitment!

To entertain us they provided some good sites to practice around their researches. My favorite is definitively Pexforfun !

Few links from them:

Some reverse engineering puzzles :

Other puzzles to solve :

Coding Duel like codingame :

Have fun ! If you know any other good links please leave a comment !