Starting as a new technical lead – Shaping a Team

Congratulations! Someone has made the wise decision to hire you as the new technical lead. It is an exciting time. You start in a new environment, will be working with a new team and maybe even have to learn new technologies along the way. This can be quite challenging. In the first article I wrote about introducing change. In this second article I want to share my personal views on shaping great teams.

As team lead, there are certain values that are just part of me and they way I think about leadership. Fortunately, in JDriven I found a company that matches my values step by step. These values are #commit, #develop and #share. In this article I want to go into some of the values that I consider important to create a great team. Continue reading

Slim modular Java 9 runtime Docker image with Alpine Linux

With the release of Java 9, and the introduction of Project Jigsaw (the Java Platform Module System), we no longer have the need for a full-blown JRE to run our Java applications. It is now possible to construct a stripped-down Java Runtime, containing the minimum set of required modules. This allows us to create slim Docker containers without excess baggage.

The source code belonging to this blog post can be found at: https://github.com/rlippolis/java9-runtime-image

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Starting as a new technical lead – Introducing change

Congratulations! Someone has made the wise decision to hire you as the new technical lead. It is an exciting time. You start in a new environment, will be working with a new team and maybe even have to learn new technologies along the way. This can be quite challenging. In this two-part article I want to share my personal views regarding Introducing change and shaping teams as a technical lead.

Introducing change

When starting in this new environment you probably bring lots of energy and want to leverage your experience to change things for the better. In my opinion introducing changes in a new environment requires some consideration.

Judging

As technical lead you are (hopefully) up to date with the latest principles and technology trends. As technical lead your life purpose is to “build the thing right” because “building the right thing” is someone else’s concern ;-) You quickly determine that the project you inherited has some some design/architectural issues that should be addressed promptly. So the next day you climb on a chair and give a passionate speech about how things need to change. Wait right there! Even if you are right, you need to consider some things.

First remember that you are judging the work of the current development team. They probably put their heart and soul into it. Secondly there are often influences from outside the team that drive technical decisions. The most obvious are deadline but there are others. Don’t be judgemental about the current state of development, because it  can quickly create a gap between you and the rest of the team.

Change velocity

Changing something requires some time for the team to adjust. This means you can’t pile change on change, even if they are beneficial. If you make to many changes you effectively try to change the team’s entire way of working.

Consider the change velocity of the team. This doesn’t have anything to do with experience. Sometimes junior team members find it easy to adopt new ways of working while the seniors are reluctant to change their ways. Getting this right requires at least experience and some feeling.

Quick wins

So am I telling you that you can’t propose any changes at all? Not really. After all you were hired as lead so you get some credits from the get go. You can introduce some minor changes to the product or processes. Often some minor changes can help the team work more efficiently. Maybe eliminate some small repetitive tasks for example. Proposing some good changes can really help establish your position as lead. Also people are more receptive to minor changes then they are to big changes. Just be aware of how many of these changes the team can adopt.

Bigger changes

Before you start introducing big changes, I think it is important to take some time to reflect on past and present. During this time quickly gather information. Try and get to know about:

  1. the team;
  2. the system’s architecture;
  3. the technologies used;
  4. the history and past architectural/design decisions;
  5. The external systems your system interfaces with;
  6. the project stakeholders (business, privacy, security…)

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. A lot of information will be in the minds of the team members you work with. This information will help you prioritize and drive your future decisions. When you have settled in the team and have a good sense of the context you are operating in, you can start discussing the changes that are most urgent.

Conclusion

When introducing change  try to not be that bull in the china shop. Instead take some time to really get to know the history of a project, the team members who work on it and the context that you operate in. If you are able to identify some quick wins you can propose some of them to the team. Use the information that you gathered to prioritize and drive any major changes that you deem necessary and propose them at an appropriate moment. Consider the velocity at which your team can adopt these changes to prevent piling on to many changes at the same time.

Awesome Asciidoctor: Use Diagram Block Macro To Include Diagrams

With the Asciidoctor diagram extension we can include diagrams that are written in plain text. For example PlantUML or Ditaa diagrams. The extension offers a block processor where we include the diagram definitions in our Asciidoctor document. But there is also a block macro processor. With the block macro processor we can refer to an external file. The file is processed and the resulting image is in our output document.

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Groovy Goodness: Download Grab Dependencies In IntelliJ IDEA

In our Groovy scripts we can use the @Grab annotation. With this annotation we define dependencies for our script and they will be automatically downloaded and added to the class path when we run our script. When we use IntelliJ IDEA we can use a nice intention that is part of the IntelliJ IDEA Groovy support to download the dependencies from our IDE editor. IDEA downloads the dependencies and add it to the project module dependencies. This is useful, because this will also adds code completion for the classes in the dependency to our editor.

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Serverless Java with AWS Lambda: Introduction

Just as we are over the crest of the microservice hype and can finally see how this architectural tool might (or might not) solve our problems the next hype is already here: serverless programming! In this first blog post I’m going to explain what serverless is, what it isn’t, and how it can change the way we create software. In the next posts I’m going to show a few simple examples using a well known ‘serverless’ platform: AWS Lambda.

Originally posted here.

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PlantUML Pleasantness: Creating Our Own Sprites

PlantUML supports sprites to be used in diagrams. A sprite is text encoded monochrome graphic we can reference using the syntax <$spriteName>. The sprite is defined using hexadecimal values. We can define a set of hexadecimal values to create our sprite, but we can also generate the correct values from for example a PNG image.

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PlantUML Pleasantness: Layout Elements With Hidden Lines

In a previous post we learned how to use a together block to keep elements together. We can also layout elements in a different way: using hidden lines. We define our elements and by using the keyword [hidden] in our line definition the elements are layout as if there was a line, but we don’t see it. This gives us great flexibility on how we layout our elements.

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