Communication!!!

So now things are beginning to move forward, I am able to start making informed decisions about what is going to work well in our team and what is going to be a waste of time.

I recently read Coder to Developer, I tried to sign up with Amazon to write a short review, but their server was having the day off. So here is a very short review. The book is a bit old now, it talks about Visual Studio 2005 still being in Beta, and it is about .NET technologies. However, all of these things are clearly inferred on the cover and the introduction, so all the people that complained about those things only have themselves to blame.

Now as for the actual book, most of the points the book makes are simple, but then the best ideas usually are. I found it pretty interesting and helped me to get a better handle on a few concepts, all in all I would probably give it a 3.5 out of 5. It’s a bit old, and some of the tools don’t exist anymore, but there is enough there to get you to go out and search for newer stuff.

I have been trying to get our team into a bit better shape in the last couple of weeks, which has mainly consisted of just getting everybody using the correct versions of software and trying to get the builds to work better. We were having problems of projects building on some machines but not others, and it was all down to the location of references. These have now been moved into the project themselves, and placed under source code control.

I felt it best to move them into SourceSafe (although we will be moving to Subversion when I have the time), as the toolkits are required to build the application, anything that is required for the build should be under source code control.

Once this problem was sorted we found that the builds were still failing on some machines due to not having the same service packs for .NET on every machine. We have now managed to standardise our configs so that at least one of our projects builds successfully on every machine.

The main reason this ended up happening is due to the team not communicating with each other; nobody knew what anybody else had on their machines and just took whatever the latest version of toolkits and frameworks were from the manufacturers website. Nobody remembered to check for any updates for the tools, hence we end up with different versions in different locations.

So my main goal at the moment is to get the team to communicate better, we have setup a Sharepoint site that we are meant to post info, links, blogs etc. too, at the moment though nobody is remembering to actually check it. It is going to take time for it to become a natural reaction, but we will get there. Another thing I am trying to get people to do is have an Instant Messenger account, whatever it maybe. If the team is working remotely then something like GoogleTalk or Skype might be better with their encryption compared to MSN. I think it is a great idea to have a quick and simple way to send links, comments or ask questions among the group. I am struggling to get everyone in agreement on this, and with the Sharepoint site, it is just going to take time.

The main thing is though, the team have to communicate, and feel able to communicate to work effectively. We had a design meeting on a Friday afternoon, I don’t feel the need to have one every week just for the sake of having a meeting, but now it has become the norm that if anybody has something they wish to discuss there is a time during the week that we can talk it over.