Developing for Google Assistant with Dialogflow

You can do version control and CI/CD with Dialogflow. Although it may look like Dialogflow is not created for developers, you can set up a nice developer flow. This makes it possible to scale development to a team of developers. This article will show you the best practices for an effective development process.

When you start off using Dialogflow you can get a user friendly web interface. You can program phrases that your voice assistant should support. Even though the Dialogflow interface is useable by non programmers, you are still programming. For a software developer it is important to have access to the source code of what they’re programming.

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Facilitated discussion as a format for learning and improvement

Sharing knowledge is import to us at Xebia. It’s one of the four core values the company is built on. We share knowledge at our clients and with the community, through meetups and conferences. Every second week we organise a Xebia Knowledge Exchange (XKE), our bi-weekly mini-conference. Filled with lots of different sessions, on all sorts of topics. There is always something interesting to learn!

During a recent XKE we came up with the idea to do a peer conference. The topic of the conference was the consultancy work that we do. We all have our own approach and experience, so there is always a lot we can learn from each other. At the conference we experimented with using K-Cards.Read more →

Breaking through organizational silo’s with EventStorming

Tedious and lengthy internal processes delay the delivery of value to end-users and lower your competitiveness. The bigger your organization, the more likely you are to encounter this problem. Visual collaboration tools like EventStorming can help with kickstarting the necessary focus shift.

Internal Competition vs External Excellence

Once an organization reaches a certain critical mass, people stop looking outwards. Instead, the focus shifts to an internal competition: outdoing that other department.  When this is the case,  our “definition of done” or standard of  “quality” becomes anything that exceeds what our colleagues have set. As a consequence, we find it acceptable to have a time-to-market of six to twelve months between a feature’s request and realization. Not only do we accept this; we’re proud of it.  Our “quick” turnaround time makes us the best student in the class within our organization, and we’re praised for achieving results–until we’re not.

Like when we suddenly realize our competitor is taking feature requests on Twitter and has a TTM of just a few weeks (or even days)!

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Model Exploration Whirlpool – Domain-Driven Design: The First 15 Years

with EventStorming and Example Mapping

This article was published in the leanpub book: Domain-Driven Design: The First 15 Years

Introduction

People often ask for more concrete guidance on how to explore models, especially in an Agile or Lean setting. The model exploration whirlpool is Eric Evans attempt to capture such advice in writing. It is not a development process, but a process that fits in most development processes. The central theme revolving the process is to keep challenging the model. While the process itself for most is straightforward and easy to understand, there are not many concrete examples to find on how to do such a model exploration whirlpool. Most people when starting to use Domain-driven design (DDD) are looking for these practical examples. In this article, I will tell you my story of how I used the model exploration whirlpool by combining EventStorming, a technique that came from the DDD community, and Example Mapping, a technique from Behaviour Driven Development (BDD) community.

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Going from a Value Stream Map to Value Stream Optimisation

Read this blog if you already have a Value Stream Map (VSM) and you are wondering how to reap its benefits using a structured process. If you need to know why and how you should make a VSM, please read the article ‘How to create a Value Stream Map’ written by my colleague Michiel Sens. Don’t forget to return here.

1. Read your VSM

So, how does a VSM look like? Depending on the linearity of a process people either display the process based on activities per role or by a flow of process steps.

Fig 1a. Process steps as a flow

VSM Linear process

Fig 1b. Activities per role
VSM activities per role

Even better is to combine the two approaches to get an idea of work per role as well as the overall process flow.
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Build and secure containers to support your CI/CD pipeline

There are 2 systems in any company that are critical: the payroll system, and the CI/CD system. Why? You may ask…
If the payroll system doesn’t work, people will leave the company and the company (may) face legal problems; the CI/CD system is the gateway to production. If it is down and there is a bug in production, it will affect your business; loss of revenue, loss of customers, loss of money, just to name a few.

Usually, I find these problems regarding the CI/CD tooling:

  • Poor Software Lifecycle Management, with outdated software, containing critical vulnerabilities
  • Ancient capabilities in the build agents. In extreme cases, frameworks and tools that are no longer supported by the vendors
  • Drifting agents. It means that teams had to do some sorcery to get the software build
  • Lack of proper isolation between different builds. It means that a build could access to another build files
  • Lead teams to upgrade or install a new framework
  • Outdated and strict rules mandated by a operations team. Usually from people that outdated heuristics on how software should be developed

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Building an Elixir runtime for AWS Lambda

At the most recent AWS Re:invent, Amazon announced support for custom runtimes on AWS Lambda.

AWS has support for quite a few languages out of the box. NodeJS being the fastest, but not always the most readable one. You can edit Python from the AWS Console, while for Java, C# and Go you’ll have to upload binaries.

The odd thing, in my opinion, is that there are no functional languages in the list of supported languages1. Although the service name would assume something in the area of functional programming. The working of a function itself is also pretty straightforward: an input events gets processed and an out put event is returned (emitted if you like).

Therefore it seemed a logical step to implement a runtime for a functional programming language. My language of choice is Elixir, a very readable functional programming language that runs on the BEAM, the Erlang VM.
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Product Adoption in IT: The Problem With Free Trials

A lot of articles and blogs describe how the customer journey should unfold and what gets in the way of achieving real success. Very few have been written about the problem of one of the most common steps for buying a technical product: the free trial. But free trials are often badly implemented.

The customers of Instruqt are mostly tech vendors who have products or features they need to sell. What Instruqt discovered is that success begins at the first touch with the product. As a tech vendor, you need to show your prospect the value of your product immediately. And the advantage of the free trial is that your prospect gets to know your product in their own environment. So, often this “first-touch” happens through the free trial. After 15, 30 or 60 days of using a product or service, the prospect can then decide if they’re actually going to buy it.

But showing the real value of your product with a free trial is really difficult. There are a lot of hurdles your prospect has to take before he knows how your product is solving his problem. In her article, Heily will show you how to overcome these hurdles.

Curious? Read Heily’s blogpost on LinkedIn.

 

Theming in Vue single file components

There are situations where it’s beneficial to build different CSS files for the same web app. An often seen example is theming an application. When you’re using Vue with its single file component Webpack loader, you’re in luck! You get a lot of flexibility that makes it straightforward to build such a feature.

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Even more Physical tools for Scrum Masters and their teams

This is the 3rd post in a series. You can find the older posts here:

Based on LinkedIn and Twitter feedback on previous posts some additions from the field!

Using perforation reinforcement to stick things to the wall

This tip comes all the way from Japan. I love it how it uses something for which it wasn’t intended. These little circular stickers are normally used to reinforce perforation holes. And with the small dispenser, they can also be used as strong, small sticky tapes!

Make things stick with these small circular pieces of sticky tape in a simple dispenser.

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