Open Source, the Web, Technology, a Drupal Focus

Drupalcamp Austin - My Keynote

Submitted by matthew on Sat, 2011-12-17 02:50

A few days ago Drupalcamp Austin posted the video from my talk. I see things I like in my presentation. I see things that I can improve.

That all said, I think the message is pretty good. You get a little history lesson on Project Management. I focus on Cowboy, Waterfall, and Agile. I talk about communication and expectations. The presentation then discusses, with quite a bit of detail, how our development process has evolved and where we are at this point in time. I'm really proud of the work we've done at - and I'm so very impressed by our team. Everybody has been involved in moving this football.

There are cats, manholes, fighter jets, pyramids, castles, waterfalls, ravens, monsters, wine, books, and just a little H.P. Lovecraft.

Thank you to and to Drupalcamp Austin for facilitating my sharing. You all rock. If you're interested in seeing my remarks - here they are.

Day 10 - The Transition

Submitted by matthew on Sat, 2011-12-17 01:39

The last few days have pretty much been nose down to the grindstone coding like crazy for the development team. Days 5-9 were pretty much the same with a few exceptions.

Day 7
On this day the Epics and High Level User Stories were delivered and these helped define user stories that needed design artifacts. The project team started sifting through the stories to identify any pitfalls or problems. As the Technical Product Architect, I start to think really hard about approaches that we might be able take when we get down to the Drupal part of the implementation. Are there any contributed modules that might fit the bill? Sitting down with various Product Managers we began detailing how the product vision would technically be handled.

Day 9
Largely the user stories were delivered. As a team we really started doing a great job of reviewing individual stories. Certain members of the development team had their features code complete which opened them up to help review the stories that were being delivered. We started looking at wireframes.

During these two days, the Executive Committee were helping continue form priorities for the next Timebox.

Day 4 - The Backlog Mambo

Submitted by matthew on Thu, 2011-12-08 22:19

Day 4 of a Drupal Timebox
Yesterday was the first day that the development team was really coding. That became conversations in IRC and the beginning of features being sent to code and theme reviewers. The spreadsheet that we keep our user stories in is starting to move yellow stories to green and the salmon stories are being turned yellow (white is uncommitted stories, grey is deferred, yellow are committed to being developed, salmon need more information, and green are ready for manual QA). This is the time when the developers really get their heads down and are working hard to complete the stories they have allotted in the time period available and work on the bug backlog.

Coding Coding Coding - Keep That Dev Team Coding!

Submitted by matthew on Wed, 2011-12-07 22:07

In the first two posts in this series I wrote about the planning days at and how those planning days set up the beginning of the code sprint. I also discussing the ancillary activities that set us up for the next timebox - locking down the priorities for the next time box.

Today, Day 3, the coding portion of the sprint begins.

The scrums started out by reviewing the salmon stories (salmon are stories that still need more information to be actionable) in the Google spreadsheet. Each story, as clarified was turned yellow - indicating the team in committing to completing the effort to complete that work. After these stories have been reviewed and clarified, the different groups are tasked with different tasks.

The morning began with three scrums. Each scrum represents a practicing unit that includes:

Day 2 - The Examiner Time Box Marches On

Submitted by matthew on Tue, 2011-12-06 21:19

Day 2 - More Planning

Day 2 of this shortened timebox was the second of our Technical Planning days. As I mentioned in my previous post, we have two half days of Technical Architecture/Planning at the beginning of the time box. We continued to review details on the user stories for this box and also tightened our estimates a little bit for remaining stories. We look at whether we need to write code from scratch, we can make use of community code, or enhance community code from the Drupal project.

We colour code our stories - white for not scheduled, yellow for scheduled and committed to, greeen for QA ready, salmon when we need more information, and grey for stories that we defer for future timeboxes. We re-reviewed stories from yesterday for which we needed clarifications. These visual queues make it really easy to scan the Google spreadsheet(s) and see the status of a given story.

Our story spreadsheet header describes the information we're looking to capture for hand off to the development team.

The Life of an Agile Timebox @Examiner

Submitted by matthew on Mon, 2011-12-05 23:22

An Introduction to the Next 15 Work Days
I've been writing a lot about process lately. is one of the largest Drupal sites in the wild. It was migrated from Cold Fusion to Drupal - a process that began about two years ago.

The Examiner development experience has moved through a wide variety of styles, tools, and methodologies over the last two years. Through blog posts and presentations, a fair bit of information is being shared about how we operate. When I was in Austin presenting, a fairly significant number of folks asked specific questions about our "Generic Timebox". I wanted to answer all the questions, but ran out of time that afternoon.

For this timebox we are using a compressed time-line. Our normal interval is 20 days - in this case we are shaving off a week and making it 15 days because of the holidays. Still, all the elements that are in our normal period are reflected in this series of days making it pretty much perfect to (hopefully) answer the questions I was being asked., Drupalcon Denver, and a Project Management Session

Submitted by matthew on Tue, 2011-11-29 22:57

In just a couple of days I will have hit my two year anniversary with It is amazing to think I've been working on a single site for that long. I've seen amazing changes on the site in that time. When I started it was Cold Fusion and I was hired to shepherd the its march to Drupal. It was a giant migration project with a full redesign of the site in tow. Drupal 7 seemed barely a twinkle and yet that was what we were building in with a database I had no practical experience with. I was working with a brand new team of developers - a just stunning crew of Drupalers. I had also started a new Drupal company with great friends. Everything was in flux. Everything was changing. So was Examiner. An adventure had begun.

Drupalcamp Austin - My Wrapup

Submitted by matthew on Sun, 2011-11-20 23:28

Thanks Austin Drupalistas!
The folks at the Austin Camp do a great job. I enjoyed this year just as much as last year. I didn't go to many sessions, but a big part of that had to do with putting last minute additions on my presentation today. Conversations last night had me swapping around a few slides and adjusting my presentation a little bit. If you want, you can look at my slides, though I think that without the context of the dialogue, they will make less sense. Thank you to the Drupalcamp Austin organizing team for inviting me to come and speak. It really was a pleasure.

Getting Ready to Present
I've been preparing for the last few weeks for today's keynote. It really started coming together over the last week. To make sure I wasn't going to have a "train wreck" in front of 300 people I used Screen Flow to record my session over and over and over again and then enjoy the pain of watching myself mess up and add additional notes to the presentation. I was pleased to give my perspectives on how the process has changed, grown, and shifted in such positive ways. Hopefully others can learn from our lessons.

Social Media, Tweets, Posts, and Photos
Thanks to everyone who sent supportive tweets and Facebook posts. I really appreciated hearing from you. Tweets during the session all seemed positive with Matt Kleve (vordude) asking a really nice question:


Submitted by matthew on Tue, 2011-11-08 13:10

Voting has opened for Drupalcon Denver with hundreds of submitted session proposals. The choices are wide and varied.

There are those trying to buy votes. Folks like Morten are trying to advocate change to how sessions are chosen.

StaceyH (my project management partner at and I want to talk about what we've learned in the process sphere in the last 18 months.

Over the last 15 years or so, I've spent time in a variety of different shops building software. The last five have been in Drupal shops using the framework to create cool sites for clients and over the last two, I've been working with building one of the largest Drupal sites out there using technologies there are now becoming more mainstream. I have worked with distributed teams and with local teams - in agencies and internally for large and small companies. My work as a stage manager and technical theatre practitioner all colour my views on managing a project from ideation to delivery.


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