Scrum, Lean, Kanban – An Analysis of Agile Frameworks

As Agile continues to mature as a methodology – forged in the fires of real-world software development projects – a variety of Agile frameworks have emerged. Three of these – Lean, Kanban, and Scrum – are arguably the most popular framework examples in the industry. One of these “flavors” may work best for your team, depending on how it builds applications or the specific needs of a particular project.

So lets take a closer look at the top Agile frameworks to help your development organization make a decision on which one fits best. Good luck!

Is it Time to join the Scrum?

Project management pundit, Moira Alexander compared the three popular Agile frameworks for CIO Magazine. We’ll summarize her take on each of them, starting with Scrum, which is beginning to be used in other industries beyond the software development world. Scrum is highlighted by its predefined roles and processes – one example being that the project manager (or facilitator) is referred to as the Scrum Master.

Scrum’s major focus – essentially like Agile itself – is the faster delivery of high quality software. Since project teams are largely expected to be self-organizing, the Scrum Master serves more as a facilitator compared to a traditional project manager. Sprints tend to be more formal, as is the framework itself, which makes it suitable for organizations used to the Waterfall, but wanting to explore a flavor of Agile.

The timeframes of sprints are also more formally defined; lasting anywhere from two to four weeks. Time spent on daily meetings is limited to 15 minutes. Changes to requirements within a sprint are discouraged.

Go Lean for a Waste-free Process

The Lean Agile framework saw its genesis in the manufacturing industry as an attempt to minimize any wasted efforts on a project, while also offering a learning opportunity to the members of the project team. Lean strives for overall systemic improvements while preserving the integrity of the process.

In most cases, Lean demands an even more formalized process than Scrum, making it another Agile framework worthy of consideration for shops coming from more structured and organized methodologies. One exception is the lack of a specific timespan for each sprint. There is also additional flexibility regarding meetings and change requests – they happen when necessary.

Kanban offers the most Flexibility

A framework relying on visual workflows to explain and define the development process, Kanban also provides more flexibility than either Scrum or Lean. Developed in the supply chain world, many software development shops now make it part of how they write code. It focuses on completing the tasks within a project while always striving to improve the underlying processes.

Since Kanban teams are extremely self-organizing, a managerial role isn’t always necessary. There is also a high level of flexibility when it comes to project timelines, the scheduling of meetings, and change control. In short, whatever keeps the project moving forward and the process continuously improving is fair game.

This high level view of the most popular Agile frameworks offers a measure of insight on which one would work best at your shop. Be sure to consider the history and experience level of your development team in addition to your goals for the future.

Stay tuned to the Betica Blog for additional insights and ideas from the evolving world of software development. Thanks for reading!

PostgreSQL 10 – New Features and Functionality

PostgreSQL remains a popular option for organizations that need a traditional SQL database, but don’t want to spend the money required for Oracle. We’ve covered this open source database in the past here on the blog. For those companies who want extra support, a commercial Postgre option like EnterpriseDB needs to be considered.

With PostgreSQL 10 scheduled for release later this year, many users are undoubtedly curious about the new features and functionality. Let take a closer look at what’s in the feature set so you can consider either an upgrade or using this new version on your next development project.

Improved Query Performance

One of the most important enhancements in PostgreSQL 10 is its faster query executor. The database is already known for performing essentially as fast as Oracle, so any additional speed boost is sure to make those benchmark comparisons even closer.

Robert Haas, Vice President for Enterprise DB and a major contributor to the PostgreSQL codebase, commented on the technical changes behind the executor’s performance boost. “Hash aggregation has been rewritten to use a more efficient hash table and store narrower tuples in it, and work has also been done to speed up queries that compute multiple aggregates and joins where one side can be proven unique,” said Haas.

Improved parallelism is another enhancement in Postgre aimed at boosting query performance. Haas noted that parallel queries now run two to four times faster in version 10. Index scanning is another function now faster because of parallel processing.

The new XMLTABLE support improves query processing against data stored internally as XML. This is the one PostgreSQL 10 enhancement aimed at the NoSQL market.

Replication is now Better – and Easier

PostgreSQL 10 now supports replication at the table level; previous versions required the full database to be replicated. This additional flexibility comes with the bonus of being easier to use as well. Called Logical Replication, it is a feature greatly anticipated in the PostgreSQL community.

Extended Statistics help with Query Planning

Developers who write complex queries against a PostgreSQL 10 instance enjoy the benefit of expanded statistics that help the query planning process. Haas explains this in more detail: “If the query planner makes a bad row count estimate resulting in a terrible plan, how do you fix it?  With extended statistics, you can tell the system to gather additional statistics according to parameters that you specify, which may help it get the plan right.”

Other PostgreSQL 10 Enhancements

Other significant Postgre 10 improvements include Declarative Partitioning which makes inserting new records faster, among other benefits. Support for SCRAM authentication enhances the security of a database instance. Durable Hash Indexes are another new feature aimed at boosting database performance.

One future enhancement potentially coming out in a point release is just-in-time compilation. This is expected to add yet another performance boost to any PostgreSQL implementation.

PostgreSQL 10 definitely adds enough new functionality for current users as well as organizations interested in an alternative to Oracle. While its NoSQL support remains limited, it is definitely a traditional SQL database worthy of your interest. EnterpriseDB also offers commercial-level support for companies still wary of an open source solution.

Keep returning to the Betica Blog for additional dispatches from the software development world. Thanks for reading!

News from the World of Software Development – March 2017

Welcome to this month’s software development and QA news digest. As 2017 enters its third month, the application engineering world continues to evolve at a rapid pace. If you are interested in February’s digest, simply click on this link.

Hopefully, you are able to leverage these insights to improve or inform your organization’s software engineering process.

Software Engineering Trends going Mainstream

Earlier this month, The Next Web published a story from the software intelligence company, Raygun, looking at three software development trends essentially becoming standard practice. We covered some of these same directional shifts in our 2017 industry trends article, and it is interesting to see them widely adopted.

The growth of ChatOps to enhance communication amongst a development team is one trend Raygun noted. ChatOps even allows software engineers and QA personnel to kick off builds and automated tests from a chatbot interface, while the entire team stays in the loop. The use of bots works well for companies already embracing DevOps and a continuous deployment model.

Speaking of continuous deployment, it is another one of the trends highlighted in the Raygun article. An increasingly competitive business world places the onus on companies to build and maintain applications faster than ever before. Following a continuous delivery model allows firms to deploy new code several times a day.

The increased use of software intelligence was the third trend discussed by Raygun, which isn’t a surprise, considering the company’s main line of business. Leveraging this form of automated intelligence hastens the discovery of problems or issues before the customer.

“Software intelligence gives you the ability to automatically detect when a user’s experience was poor and how you can improve it, with full diagnostic details being provided for every individual user error, crash or performance issue,” the article mentioned. This new era of application performance monitoring is one worth watching by anyone responsible for public-facing applications.

The Principles of Agile Software Development

Late March saw the appearance of a Forbes article in our news feed detailing the daily principles of Agile software development. While this is more of an evergreen topic than “news” per se, anyone new to Agile would benefit from studying these concepts. Scott Stiner, the CEO of UM Technologies, a software firm focusing on innovative user experience (UX) design, authored the article.

Stiner highlights the fact that traditional software engineering methodologies – most notably the Waterfall – lack the iteration compatible with the modern business world. The high cost of finding defects too late in the development process isn’t a risk many organizations want to take. This, combined with the faster speed of business noted earlier, is a major reason many software shops have embraced Agile over the last decade.

Early delivery of prototypes and strong customer interaction remain a major focus of Agile. Changes to requirements are welcome; not considered to be scope creep as with older methodologies. Analyze the rest of these Agile principles to see if a change in how you write applications makes sense for your organization.

Keep coming back to the Betica Blog for additional news and information regarding the wide world of software development. As always – thanks for reading!