The Basie team has made considerable progress this term, both on the software, and in learning how to work together effectively. One member dropped out due to over-commitment, but most of the others pushed hard to get Version 0.6 out i time for me to take it to the Python Conference in Atlanta, where we got a lot of useful feedback. We’re on track to do another release (Version 0.7) at the end of term or shortly after.
Things that are going well:
- Most students have found the find-code-review-commit rhythm that’s the programming equivalent of a marathon runner’s stride. As you can see from our stats, several team members are posting a few small patches every week, and everyone else is involved in checking them and discussing them.
- Discussion: we have good attendance at the weekly online meetings, and there’s lots of back-and-forth in the mailing lists and IRC channel.
- Code quality: remains high, thanks primarily to code reviews. (We could use more unit tests, but two team members are now wrestling with Selenium to accomplish exactly that.)
- Self-awareness: putting my prof’s hat back on, this is the most important part of the course. I believe the students in the Basie team understand why to work this way, i.e., why they should create tickets for even the smallest tasks that they aren’t going to do immediately, why to review code before it’s committed, and so on.
Things we need to improve:
- Some students are still struggling with the lack of hard deadlines in this course. Since their other assignments all have due dates, it’s easy to push work on Basie aside (“It’s not due tomorrow” == “I should be doing something else”). There’s not much time left for these students to catch up with their peers…
- I need to do a better job of prioritization. On the one hand, I want students to work on fun stuff; on the other, someone has to deal with the mundane bug fixing, simplify the installation, etc., and I don’t always make it clear which is more important (because I haven’t thought it through carefully enough myself).
Overall I’m very pleased: the difference between January 4 and today is remarkable.