Archive for November, 2009

Back from XP Days Benelux, on to XP Days London

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

Last week I attended the XP Days Benelux. It’s the fourth time I go there, and it’s been a mild shock to realize how often I was there. The first time I went there was because I had the pleasure to meet Pascal, who was kind enough to help us run the first Essap. It was a big bet for us to do something as big as a Summer School. Luckily, we had help from Pascal and Francesco.

I was just starting to get my bearings in the Agile world back in 2006. Pascal came to Essap and taught us about estimating, planning and executing a plan, with his and Vera‘s ingenious XP Game. And that was not his only contribution… he was, like, a *real agilist* who had a long tradition and a strong community behind. In 2006 we had just started the Milano XP User Group. It was great to meet someone who had a much bigger experience of working with agility.

There is this peculiar thing about the Benelux Agile community. They are real cosmopolitans. They speak English easily, since their countries speak many different languages and they are used to speak English even among themselves. They really *live* the agile values. I mean, if you want to succeed with agile, you better start living your life with the agile values. The organization of the XP Days reflects this.

For instance, it’s not like in old-school conferences where you send you session proposal and then it’s either rejected or approved. At Xp Days you are supposed to send a first draft, then you receive feedback on your proposal, then you improve your proposal with the feedback. This reflects the value of feedback, and the principle that good things are not done in one shot, but iteratively.

In the room where the plenary sessions were held, the core values of this group of agilists were exposed prominently. See in the first picture here, they are those sheets of papers high up to the right of the projector screen. They are unreadable in the photo, but they were well readable if you were in the room. They were

  • courage,
  • openness,
  • focus,
  • respect,
  • committment.

One other example of agile values in action is the many forms of feedback that are encouraged. For every session, you’re encouraged to write your feedback on a small card for that session. At the closing of each day, people who attended each sessions are asked to tell everybody what they learned (in 60 seconds! The timebox is another agile principle.) When you leave the conference you are asked to write a feedback sheet for the conference in general. “Give the gift of feedback”, is what the organizers say.

So my trail in the world of agile has been very much influenced from the beginning by the Benelux agilists. It’s a great trail to be in :-) Over the years I got to meet many more friends there, and it’s great to meet new ones every year. Some, like Yves, Marc and Willem, continued Pascal’s tradition and came to help us organize Essap in 2008.

My and Antonio‘s contribution to the XP Days this year was the session on the Birthday Greetings Kata. Thanks to all participants! We learned a lot of valuable feedback on how to improve this session, and I’m ready for the next stop, which will be in London.

Impara il TDD con il team Orione di Sourcesense

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

Summary: my company, Sourcesense, offers a one-day course on TDD

Se ti interessa imparare il Test-Driven Development con sviluppatori che lo usano tutti i giorni, in un corso di una giornata, mani-sulla-tastiera, iscriviti al nostro corso. E’ il primo corso pubblico che facciamo; prima d’ora abbiamo sempre fatto corsi in casa dai nostri clienti. Speriamo di fare un pienone!

Quando: 27 gennaio 2010

Dove: a Sesto San Giovanni, via Venezia 23

Quanto costa: € 300,00 più iva; ma puoi spendere solo € 200,00 più iva se completi il pagamento entro il 27 dicembre.

Chi lo insegna: io (Matteo Vaccari) più un altro sviluppatore del team Orione di Sourcesense.

Tutte le informazioni, e il link per l’iscrizione, sul sito di Sourcesense:

Back from iad09

Saturday, November 21st, 2009

So this was the sixth Italian Agile Day!

It’s been great to meet old friends, and make new acquaintances too.


  • Peter Stevens, for sharing insightful tips and tricks on how to succeed with fixed price projects.
  • Alberto Provaglio, for the interesting insights on system dynamics.
  • Jacopo Romei, for the courage of sharing his not-so-successful experiences.
  • Gabriele Lana and Simone Genini, for helping me with the coaching workshop.
  • Simone Casciaroli, for convincing me to do a workshop instead of my old boring presentation, and working hard at preparing it. We’ll do another one some other time!
  • All the people that attended the workshop. It’s been overwhelming. Thanks for coming and contributing!
  • Alberto Brandolini, for teaching me that there’s a lot more to DDD than I thought.
  • Indrit Selimi, for taking the picture at the workshop.
  • Marco Gulino, for the self-sacrifice of giving up coming to the IAD, getting up at 4 in the morning *and* having to deal with a confrontational situation.
  • My Sourcesense collegues, for contributing many sessions again in 2009.
  • Marco Abis and the Bologna XP User Group, for all the work *and* for being great people to hang around with.

Thank you all! Let’s do even better next year!

How I setup confluence on Debian

Friday, November 13th, 2009

Pardon the dreariness of this post. I did this twice in a couple of days. I thought I might as well write down what I did, to save me time next time. Let me state first that this is an opinionated install :-) I don’t like bloated Tomcat installations with many applications on them. I prefer to have each application in its own place with its own server. So I will use the Confluence standalone package, which is integrated with Tomcat. When I will install Jira on the same box, I will download another standalone package.


Connect to your server. Execute

  apt-get install apache2 ca-certificates
  apt-get install mysql-server

Create file /etc/mysql/conf.d/confluence.cnf with the following contents


Then restart mysql with

  /etc/init.d/mysql restart

Edit /etc/apt/sources.list, appending the string ” non-free” to every line.
Then execute

  apt-get install sun-java6-jdk

Install Confluence

Download the Confluence standalone package for gnu/linux (not the one for


Create the directory /opt/confluence. In that directory, expand the confluence
archive. Then create a symlink from /opt/confluence/confluence-app to the
actual directory that contains the confluence application

  ln -s /opt/confluence/confluence-3.0.2-std /opt/confluence/confluence-app

Then create directory /opt/confluence/confluence-data.

Edit the file confluence/WEB-INF/classes/ within the
confluence distribution, and add the line


Edit the file conf/server.xml and change the following:

  • Change 8080 and 8000 to something other than these, which are the default
    Tomcat ports and might be useful some other day. I use 8180 and 8100.
  • In the first Connector element, add the attribute address=”″. This
    will make Tomcat bind to localhost only. I don’t want to make Tomcat
    directly accessible from the outside.
  • In the first Context element, change path=”” to path=”/confluence”.
    Otherwise I can’t get the reverse proxy from Apache to work.

Create a file /opt/confluence/ with the following contents:

  export JAVA_HOME=/usr/lib/jvm/java-6-sun
  su -m www-data -c /opt/confluence/confluence-app/bin/

Change ownership of the whole /opt/confluence thing to www-data

  chown -R www-data.www-data /opt/confluence
  chmod +x /opt/confluence/

Download the mysql driver


Extract the archive, and copy the jar it contains to

Create the database and the user for confluence

  # mysql -uroot -p
  mysql> create database confluence;
  mysql> grant all on confluence.* to confluence@ identified by 'secret';

Now if you didn’t do this when first connecting, exit from ssh and reconnect to create a tunnel, to be able to browse Confluence from localhost on the server.

  ssh -L1234:localhost:8180 root@myserver

Execute /opt/confluence/, then point the browser to


You should see the confluence configuration screen. Now just follow the wizard. Remember to choose “Custom installation”, “External database”, and “Mysql”.

When Confluence is up and running, we still have some things to do. Let’s configure Apache to serve Confluence in http://myserver/confluence . Edit /etc/apache2/site-available/default and add the following lines:

  <Location /confluence>
  	Order allow,deny
    Allow from all
  ProxyPass /confluence
  ProxyPassReverse /confluence

Then execute

  a2enmod proxy proxy_http
  /etc/init.d/apache2 reload

You should now be able to see Confluence at http://myserver/confluence

Now we must make sure that Confluence will start at system boot. Just call
/opt/confluence/ in /etc/rc.local. It’s simple, and it

You may stop here unless you want to serve Confluence via ssl. In that case… let’s carry on. Execute

  a2ensite default-ssl
  a2enmod ssl
  /etc/init.d/apache2 reload

You should be able to access https://myserver/ now. Now move the proxypass configuration from sites-available/default to sites-available/default-ssl.