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Abstract

Agile is a software development methodology which I becoming popular day by day. It defines the mind set of many software development teams working across the globe. This article will walk you through the entire agile-scrum process and how as a developer you can contribute in agile way and deliver value. BTW, agile means ability to move quickly.

Agenda

  • Life Cycle of a Developer
  • Barriers to value delivery
  • Agile Adoption
  • Plan Driven Vs. Value Driven
  • Agile Manifesto
  • Scrum – End-to-End Process
  • Agile Estimation
  • Scrum Status Board
  • Agile Tools
  • Conclusion

Life Cycle of a Developer

 1st interaction a developer have is with BA, they are responsible to document, track and describe the user requirements. But many times there are gaps in understanding the needs; which causes issue by various means.  Image below shows what user wanted and what happened when it is implemented.

Stop the blame game

In many team settings, a developer is considered to be responsible for everything, right from understanding requirements to code to support testing, help in deployment and then resolve production issues. Well, I always believed that entire software development is a team effort. But at the end, in most cases developers bear most of the blame. So its no longer a Developer’s responsibility to own everything rather team owns it.

Team Barriers = Value Delivery Impediments

All .NET Development teams want to deliver value but on realistic grounds what are barriers which stops a team to deliver value.

Every team has dependency within and on people outside, the communication gap and lack of understanding of common goal is the root cause of Value Delivery Impediments.

Impact of Team Barriers

Well, most of the issues any software teams runs into has following outcomes:

Increased Cycle Times - This means that you have to work longer to get work completed.

Increased costs – More time means more money.

Dissatisfied users & Stakeholders – End user missed the milestone of feature being available and so it raises concerns for stakeholders as well.

Lost value opportunities – You are potentially not going to have more work from same client.

Agile Adoption

 

Agile-Scrum is most widely accepted methodology of Agile development. Term scrum is taken from sport rugby in which whole team works get the possession of the ball.

Plan Driven Vs Value Driven

 

Plan Driven (waterfall approach) is an old school which defines software development life cycle. Many teams are still doing that though but in waterfall plan takes precedence over value.

Value Driven (agile approach) is new way of building software, it gels teams, stakeholders and user very well and help them team receive early feedback and fail fast.

Manifesto for Agile Development

17+ people gathered in a ski resort and they came up with agile manifesto.

Understanding Type of Backlogs

In agile-scrum there are two type of backlogs

  1. Product backlog
  2. Sprint backlog

Product backlog is larger list of work items (in agile world known as User Stories), it is like a “Functional Specification Document” or System Requirement Specification Document or “Business Requirement Document” or whatever your organization likes to call it.

So whatever user requirements we have, all are stored in Product Backlog, backlog.

Sprint Backlog, Sprint is defined time, teams work on to deliver certain items from product backlog. But before teams start working on those items (User Stories), those need to be properly defined.

Scrum – End -to-End Process

Agile Scrum Ceremonies

Team works on a sprint for anywhere between 1-4 weeks. Ideal sprint duration is 2 weeks. So from Product backlog some User Stories are moved to Sprint Backlog and then team works on those for 2 weeks. During those two weeks following ceremonies are performed.

Sprint Planning, this is 1st thing which takes place before any work can begin. In this meeting team looks at User Stories which Product Owner thinks team should work upon in the next sprint. Team looks in detail at the given requirements, brainstorm, define/review acceptance criteria or the work, estimate and assign the work to team member(s).

Daily Stand-Up, this is status meeting among team(s) members, in this meeting each team member gives status on three criteria’s.

  1. What I did yesterday.
  2. What I will do today.
  3. Am I blocked?

Sprint Review, this takes place after each User Story is completed, so Product owner can accept the work.

Sprint Demo, this given an opportunity to the whole team and larger group of users to see all the work team has completed and see end-to-end functionality.

Sprint Retrospective, this gives opportunity to the development team to discuss three things

  1. What went well?
  2. What went wrong?
  3. What we want to improvise?

Agile Estimation

Agile offers two type of estimations:

  1. Story Points, this is most commonly used agile estimation technique.
  2. T-Shirt Sizing, some teams estimate User Stories in T-Shirt sizing.

Scrum Status Board

Agile, enforces daily status reporting and so many teams use various ways to track and show the progress on each user story. I found that a detailed board like following provides more visibility and track each task/activity related to a Sprint Item.

Agile Tools

There are many tools available for agile-scrum teams, but I have found TFS and rally widely used in industry. Both work on similar agile-scrum concepts and are very user friendly. Below are the screenshots of TFS.

Sprint View in TFS

Workflow for Task Status

Drag and Drop support for ease

Conclusion

Though agile seems very easy to understand and implement, but it’s very challenging to apply it correctly and many organizations are not in agreement with what agile brings and its way of delivering things. Startups are usually known to follow agile rather well established companies at organization level. I.e. In a company a team might be doing agile but various other teams or company’s mindset might still be waterfall based.  But agile is an amazing methodology to deliver more value; regardless of you are working in agile team or not it’s worth knowing about agile-scrum process.

We are uncovering better ways of developing
software by doing it and helping others do it.
Through this work we have come to value:

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan

That is, while there is value in the items on
the right, we value the items on the left more.

Kent Beck
Mike Beedle
Arie van Bennekum
Alistair Cockburn
Ward Cunningham
Martin Fowler
James Grenning
Jim Highsmith
Andrew Hunt
Ron Jeffries
Jon Kern
Brian Marick
Robert C. Martin
Steve Mellor
Ken Schwaber
Jeff Sutherland
Dave Thomas

Source : http://www.agilemanifesto.org/

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Introduction

.NET Client Profile is supported by .NET Versions 3.5 and 4.0. It is designed for client applications like Console Applications, Windows Forms, WPF Applications and so on. As we all know there are many types of applications and hence what is required by one application may not be necessarily required by another type of application. For example, System.Web is only used by ASP.NET / Web apps, this is of no use for Windows Forms app. The Client Profile version of .NET Framework is a lightweight subset of the Framework. This enables quicker deployment and small installation packages.

Let’s see how Microsoft made the .NET Client Profile

Microsoft removed some of the features from the .NET Framework to make the footprints smaller and optimized. Microsoft chose to remove ASP.NET, MSBuild, Advanced WCF features and support for Oracle databases to reduce the framework into a smaller and optimized footprint. Web Applications don’t support the Client Profile version of the framework. Web applications are server-side and so full .NET Framework installation is recommended, unlike client applications. Microsoft has removed the Client Profile from the latest version of .NET Framework 4.5 and hence with .NET 4.5 there is no Client Profile as shown in the image below.

Why .NET 4.5 doesn’t have a Client Profile

Now if you think from a deployment’s point of view, you would want your installer to be as optimized and small as possible, so it takes the minimum required on the client machine and this can be done by the Client Profile flavor of.NET 3.5 and 4.0. .NET 4.5 is already optimized and tuned for quicker deployment and takes a small amount of disk space for all type of applications. Hence, no more .NET 4.5 Client Profile.

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Abstract

Today’s IT industry is all about foreign clients, anyways you are dealing with them now and then, but working in their own land with them is a different experience altogether.  This article will help you learn about working in USA and many other related things.

Note- Please don’t write any comment or ask me for any Visa Sponsoring, how much money you can make particularly and what you can do to fly to USA etc.

Ways to Enter USA

There are various ways to enter USA, but as a “work” professional following are visa types which allow you to enter USA and either live for some time or live for long term and earn in US$.

Visa Type Who Sponsors It How Long Can you Stay Validity for Years Transferable to other employer
B1 Employer 6-12 months in one visit 10 years No
L1A Employer 7 years 7 Years No
L1B Employer 5 Years 5 Years No
H1B Employer or Self as an individual 6 years 6 years Yes

H1B visa allows you to change your employers once you are in USA, so if you don’t like CompanyA then you can transfer your H1B staus to CompanyB and continue to live and earn in USA.

L1 Visa holders can’t do this as L1 is intracompany transfer visa, means an India office of CompanyA is sending you to its US office for work.

B1 visa holders are usually those who travel for KT (Knowledge Transfers), conferences and client meetings etc.

What skills are required?

Well, my core skill are has always been Microsoft so I can share those with you, but skills can be easily discovered via some job site portals.

Technical skills - .NET, C#, MVC, SOA, Algorithmic/analytical thinking, strong coding, best practices, SQL BI, TFS, debugging and analysis, SQL Server, Architectural Principles.

Soft Skills – Good communication, listening skills, ability to present your ideas on whiteboard, team player, ability to collaborate with others within and outside team.

Cultural skills – Ability to bear culture shock, ability to communicate with local people and understand their accent and way of living, accept that you are far-far from your home land, ability to live alone for months with no one to talk (at-least until you make some friends).

Show me the money; honey

This is something everyone might be interested in; but salary range varies from job profile, experience and skills you have. Salary is also driven by nature of your company and your Visa type, for example,

  • B1/B2 visa travelers are paid approx. US$ 40-100 per day + Home Country Salary as is.
  • L1 visa travelers are paid in the range of $55K – 75K per year + No India Salary at all.
  • H1B visa holders are paid more than L1 and ranges from $55K – $140K per year or even more + No India Salary at all.

Expanses and Deductions from Salary

USA is an expansive country and you pay for everything and it’s pretty expansive. Let’s see some basic deductions and expanses per month

Expanse Type US$ Per Month
House Rent $700 – 1500 (Based on 1 bedroom, 2 bedroom and location)
Water + Garbage $75 – $110
Electricity $50 – $115 (bill is on higher side in winters)
Phone $50 – $120 (higher side is for two lines unlimited calling with in USA)
Internet $29 – $80 (based on speed you want)
Grocery $ 250 – $2000 (based on number of family members, their age [especially if you have kids then you have more expanses] & your life style)
Car $50 – $500 (depending upon your travel pattern and type of vehicle you own)

 

Deductions from your Salary per month. Amount will be based on your Salary
Federal Income Tax (in general it’s Income Tax, In USA you can’t show investments etc. to have some rebate. Like India has limit for 1.5 Lakh.)
Social Security Tax (tax deducted by government to pay people how have retired)
Health Insurance Premium – Optional (it is usually offered at discounted rate by employers)
Dental Insurance – Optional (it is usually offered at discounted rate by employers)
Vison Insurance – Optional (it is usually offered at discounted rate by employers)
State Tax (some states like New Jersey, New York and many others have extra deductions as State Tax)
401K – Optional (Like PF in India)

In USA medical is very expansive, a Dr’s visit can cost anywhere between $100 – 100,000. So it’s better to analyze your and your family’s health trend and take necessary insurance plans. Health and Dental are a must according to me.

How to apply for work permit (Visa) for USA

Well, easiest way is that your current employer send you on a project. But that is not the case in many scenarios and with some employers. Then you can file your H1B by yourself. H1B is lottery based and every year in April 65000 H1B visa are granted to selected professionals.

If you want to apply yourself then find a company (search on job sites there are many) who can file H1B for you. They will charge you approx. $5K – $6K to submit your H1B application. As H1B is totally lottery based so your application may or many note be picked in lottery. If your application is not picked then some employer may return some of the money and they may or may not return your money. So consider it a GAMBLE.

Do I have Job Assurance?

Well, even if you have got visa and travelled to USA; many times there might not be a job for you and that may last for months. I know some candidates who are on their own and have no job. Besides, to live in USA you need medical insurance etc. which is very expansive and other expanses you have for your living, food etc.

Work Life Balance

US work culture is officially 40Hrs a week, so in your timesheet you fill 8hrs per day. If you have a decent manager then you have a good life as many of them are. People here have a culture to work from home (not always unless you are a remote worker officially) on instance based scenarios, respect of family and personal needs, kids school meetings etc.

But all these freedom comes with great responsibility; and people are not supposed to abuse that. If you do so then you will be restricted and you may have to take holiday to fulfill your family or personal commitment.

What if I am not able to go to USA

Personally, I came to USA at very late stage of my career. So work on your skills, client relations, and many other things and be happy. Everyone has a different path to follow and destiny chooses people time to time. So don’t be disappointed that you are not selected, or couldn’t got to USA etc. Rather think what you can do to go to USA.

Save money, make some sacrifices, don’t buy expansive mobile phone, don’t eat outside, and don’t buy extra clothes, shoes, accessories and save money to apply your H1B next year.

Also, keep looking the pattern your company has, do they have client in USA, do people travel to USA from your company etc.

What happens when I return from USA to my home country

Well, in terms of your job and career; this certainly has a boost. I have experienced that personally. Besides that your way to seeing things and applying skills will change a bit.

Besides, many companies prefer candidates who has travelled and lived outside as this allows them to present themselves better to a potential client and showcase skills their team has in general.

You can also read this article on C# Corner

Abstract:

Today’s world is about distributed teams across the globe; a team member sitting in Indian Silicon Valley or a software company of financial capital of India might be reporting to a manager sitting in Microsoft Headquarters in Redmond WA. (a suburb of Seattle WA, USA). This is almost like you travelled how of the world. Hence, long-distance communication has become prominent over the last couple of years.

But I am Technically Strong; so how does it matter to me:

Well, if you are really interested to move up on the career ladder then communication is the key. For instance, if you want to be promoted to be a Tech/Team Lead; then Good Communication skills will help in the longer run.

Good communication demonstrates good leadership skills and so helps you to pave the road to new roles and responsibilities. Would like to send a software architect to a client or listen to him on phone when he can barely communicate; would you like to work with a team/tech lead or onsite coordinator who can barely communicate what client wants? I am sure NOT.

Why English has become so important?

Do I really have to answer it? If you are reading this article of mine, then you are on the same boat like me. I.e. software development field. English is a global language to communicate with anyone whom you don’t know how to connect with. Besides, if you are planning to travel, work abroad, deal with higher management in your company and pave your road in a highly competitive society then good command over English is like “Cherry on the Cake”.

Many deserving candidates are rejected every year for USA visa (H1B, L1B even study abroad) in their interview because they can hardly communicate well and can’t impress the consulate person who is interviewing the candidate?

Consider; even technical interviews; how do you express that you are good candidate and know the technology; that time is gone when you can cram the questions and spit those over to the interviewer; trend of interview has changed. For instance, now people don’t really ask difference between “Abstract class and Interfaces” instead they will ask you a scenario where you chose to implement an Interface instead of an Abstract class or vice versa. Even, based on your project description they drag you into a totally un-imagined situation and ask for your views. Such just in time situation, scenarios are hard to cram or even prepare for; so you end up sharing your thoughts or thought process during interview; do you feel little sweating in your palms or forehead J.

So what’s the technique to have good English communication skills?

Thumb rule- as it implies to those candidates whose mother tongue or native language is NOT English, just like me.

Don’t panic or afraid of English Communication; rather work on it. I can share how I (a small town’s boy of Hindi medium from northern India) made it possible.

Rule#1 – Focus on Learning English grammar to strengthen the fundamentals; if there is a need to improvise on English grammar then work on it for some time and remaining can be learned by listening and speaking with others. Here is a good E-Book to strengthen the fundamentals from basics to extreme expert level.

Rule#2 – Don’t focus on Accent (American, British etc.) immediately; instead focus on grammar for correct usage or words and accurate sentence formation. Accent will come automatically later when you work with people across the globe and have developed good grasp of language.

Rule#3 – Your skills building I.e. Learning must be using English only; For instance; I see some people prefer to learn technology in their native language; I don’t understand how learning .NET or any other topic will help you better in your native language; because most of the terms are English only; C#, CLR, Framework, Language, Compile, Code, Debug and so on. So why to worry so much for some of the plumbing/gluing words in the middle to make sentences.

For example, if I had to learn what is .NET then what is it you won’t understand in this “.NET is a platform and framework which allows you to build applications using many .NET Complaint programming languages and even deploy and run those on many non-Microsoft Platforms Oss”.

I am totally against of reading novels etc. to build English vocabulary; rather start a book of your choice MVC, .NET, C#, ASP .NET, WCF etc. cover to cover; yes, cover to cover read right from About the Author to About the Technical Reviewer to Acknowledgement, Dedication etc. to the chapters of your choice. I guarantee 1st few sections has a lot to teach you about general purpose English communication. So your time is better invested into building your skills with books of your areas instead of reading a 1000 pages fiction novel like Harry Potter especially for this cause.

However; if you wish to read a book other than your technical area then reach out to mea I can guide you for some good books which might be helpful in various ways.

Rule#4 – Listening is very important; when I was in college I heard people saying that listening to English songs will help you to learn English; well to be honest I never found time to double up my efforts to listen to English songs and then learn my study topics in English. BTW, I also don’t recommend listening to English music and trying to read English material at the same time; it could turn out to be pretty messy especially at the beginner level.

So listen to some of your favorite speakers for the topic of your choice; Listening causes great learning especially in terms of usage of words, sentence formation, accent, pitch, pace, sound quality etc. My YouTube channel MyPassionForDotNet has couple of videos from 10 minutes to 2+ hour long sessions.

In free time even listen to the people in your office, market, shops, conference calls, elevators, parking etc.

Rule#5 – No slang language; Say “Yes”, many times I have seen people saying “yeah” “bro”, “You know after each line”, “cool” and many more terms. Well, I suggest always say “Yes”; believe me this has an impact on your way of building skills. When you are good with English communication then occasionally usage of yeah is OK. Basically; this puts you into a habit of strictly respecting the core of the language and also teaching your tongue what to utter; which is very important.

Rule#6 – Hang out with right people, if you have someone who can help you to polish your communication skills then find such people if possible. Well, I was not able to find any because I grew with people like me J but time has changed. I am sure you might have someone around you.

Rule#7 – Think big, Start small; if you are in a discussion then start whatever you can using English and see how far you can go. Anyways; in native land we speak in Mix-mode (some English and some native language) so you focus on speaking the English part as precisely as possible.

Rule#8 – Go slow; I have observed that many people think that Good English Communication is all about speaking fast; actually it’s a myth; I have earned large amount of my professional experience working out-side India with people from various English speaking continents; one thing I found common in all of them is that they speak slow; soft and clear.

Rule#9 – Pronunciation, when speaking no matter what language you are using; way to utter a word is very important; it become very important when you speak in English. Here is a great pronunciation tool to help you learn how a particular word is pronounced.

Some examples; I would like you to try and see what you thought was and actually how these must be pronounced. E.g. Scythe, calcium, pronunciation.

Rule#10 – Come out of native way of pronunciation; our native place (town, city, country) has huge impact on our way to learn pronouncing a word; many times we continue to speak the same way; but the associated cost with this approach; if you have been speaking wrong is that it takes a while to practice speaking it right.

For example, Most of the Indian people even Drs pronounce Calcium as “Cal-Shi-um” but actually there is no “Sh” sound in it. It’s just a very small example of how our native culture have impact on our way of speaking. Many people have tendency of adding sound of other letters when speaking something. Try again how most of the people say “Pronunciation” and compare that with the tool I referred in Rule# 9

Such issues can be fixed with caution, awareness and practice. There is nothing a human mind can’t conquer or achieve.

So let’s summarize the rules:

Rule #1- Learn grammar for better English communication.

Rule #2 – Don’t focus on Accent immediately

Rule #3 – Learn Technology in English only; strictly (books, audio, video etc.)

Rule #4 – Listening results in great learning.

Rule #5 – No slang, use words which reflects respect for the language.

Rule #6- Right company, connect with people who speak good English.

Rule #7 – Think big, Start small.

Rule #8- Speak slow but steady and you will win the race.

Rule #9 – Pronounce right; this is impressive in its own way.

Rule #10 – Go global; to some extent; come out of native tongue; way of pronunciation.

Abstract

In today’s software development world; we are solving complex business scenarios and developing large business applications. Hence, proper designing is the major factor which contributes to the scalability and performance of any .NET application.

Efficient Resource Management

Resources are very critical for the existence and survival of any application. Examples of resources include objects, files, connections, handles, streams etc. Hence proper handling and cleanup of such resources is critical for the better performance of system.

Here are points to consider:

  • Should properly handle the object creation and cleanup if needed.
  • In .NET some objects offer a Close() method to do proper handling of resources. Some of those are db connection, Streams etc.
  • .NET provides proper structured blocks which can be used in your code to enforce the cleanup if situation arises. For example, finally blocks or using statements can be used to ensure that resources are closed or released properly and in a timely fashion.

Considerations for Crossings the Application Boundary

Applications live and run in their own territory which is defined by the Machine, Process or Application Domains they are hosted in or deployed on. I.e. if two applications communicate with each other across machine, process r app domain there is significant impact on performance of the application.

  • Cross application domain. Since in .NET a process is optimized to have multiple application domains which can then host application inside those app domains. This is the most efficient boundary to cross because it is within the context of a single process.
  • Cross process. Crossing a process boundary significantly impacts performance. You should do so only when absolutely necessary. For example, you might determine that an Enterprise Services server application is required for security and fault tolerance reasons.
  • Cross machine. Crossing a machine boundary is the most expensive boundary to cross, due to network latency and marshaling overhead. Before introducing a remote server into your design, you need to consider the relative tradeoffs including performance, security, and administration.

Single Large Assemblies or Multiple Smaller Assemblies

In .NET assembly is the unit of deployment; an application comes to an existence in the form of an assembly only. Any application you have built after compilation produces an assembly only. All the .dlls your project refers to are .NET Assemblies only.

When working on designing and architecting a solution it is critical to consider that different functionalities, classes and interfaces etc. should be part of one single chunky assembly or should be divided across multiple smaller assemblies.

Here are points to consider

  • To help reduce your application’s working set (in simple terms set of memory pages required to host the application in the process) , you should prefer single larger assemblies rather than multiple smaller assemblies. If you have several assemblies that are always loaded together, you should combine them and create a single assembly.
  • Reasons to avoid multiple smaller assemblies:
    • Since you have multiple assemblies consider the cost required in loading metadata for multiple smaller assemblies.
    • JIT compile time will be much more as per count of assemblies.
    • Security checks needed for multiple assemblies.

Continue Reading…

Choosing Right Type of WCF Project

September 20th, 2014 | Posted by Vidya Vrat in .NET | C# - (0 Comments)

Abstract
Before you begin coding, it very important to understand what type of output and behavior is expected. These questions can be answered by reviewing your Deployment and Test needs as well. In this article I will talk about guidelines for choosing right type of WCF project templates while creating WCF Service(s).

Introduction
Any application’s life begins with choosing a Project Template. Right type of Project Template has big impact on how your application will shape up, output type etc.

WCF Services Projects are no different than other applications except being biggest player in SOA world.

Different Templates for WCF
Most commonly used type in industry is either WCF Service Library or WCF Service Application, as shown in the image below.

WCFTemplates

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The difference between two depends on your Test and Deployment needs.

Continue Reading Full Article…

Creating & Consuming a DLL in C#

September 10th, 2014 | Posted by Vidya Vrat in .NET | C# | Video Tutorial - (0 Comments)

1st Actual Computer Bug

September 9th, 2014 | Posted by Vidya Vrat in Technology Awareness - (0 Comments)

1st actual computer bug found, September 9, 1947

In 1947, a team of engineers working on the Mark II Aiken Relay Calculator at Harvard University had a problem in one of the circuits of the long glass-enclosed computer. A member of the programming team, Grace Hopper, recorded the story in her log book:  “It was over in another building, and the windows had no screens on them and we were working on it at night, of course, and all the bugs in the world came in. And one night she (Mark II) conked out and we went to look for the bug and found an actual large moth, about four inches in wing span, in one of the relays beaten to death, and we took it out and put it in the log book and pasted Scotch tape over it.”

1stComputerBug

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to Hopper, from then on, when anything went wrong with a computer, they said it had bugs in it. The term “bug” had been used by engineers to describe flaws in machines, but Hopper popularized “bug” and “debug” as early computer-programmer language. She was an originator of electronic computer automatic programming and a computer pioneer while working for the Navy, where she was a Rear Admiral. As a lecturer, she often told the story of the computer bug. The Mark II was an electromechanical computer built at Harvard and financed by the US Navy.