Category Archives: Community

Don’t tell me how – tell me your intent

Since I have founded my own company, I have worked for/with multiple companies. During those times I made a few observations I’d like to share. This is one observation.

TLDR: Give a team an intent and the team will give you the best path to that intent (goal). A much better path (how) than you could ever figure out yourself.

A lot of (it) organizations work in iterations (so called ‘Agile’). Often using a process (but not limited to) called Scrum.

Whatever you’d like to call the process, there is a need to build things. This need is often presented as a list and is (should be) ordered by priority. In Scrum this is called the Product Backlog. This list is often discussed in so called refinement sessions where the Product Backlog Items are being prepared for the next (coming) iteration.

One of the questions I’ve heard is: “how much work/effort would it cost to do [backlog item] ?”.

This is a very useful question, but also a dangerous one.

Business/Product Owner/Managers – Be careful what you ask for! – Example #1

Lets use a more concrete example:

[Backlog Item] says: “As [Organisatie X] I’d like to have a JSON implementation so that I can work with [party Y]”.

Considering the question we posed (“how much effort..” etc), the answer will be a quantity expressed in Story Points, hours or whatnot. This is valuable information, as a business owner you can make the translation (roughly) to the amount of money this feature will cost. You can then evaluate if this ‘is worth it’.

You have the answer to your question. But did you actually get that much further? What did you miss?

Business: Use your team’s brainpower! – express intent! (business value) – Example #2

Lets reformulate the Backlog item so we express intent first:

[Backlog Item] says: “to offer service X to our customer(s) we’d like to send order information to [party Y] so that we can deliver orders to our customers.”.

Ah, so the intent is to ship orders to a customer which (apparently) party Y is only able to deliver!

This is a totally different question.

So where does JSON come from? Is it really required to send orders? Could we perhaps export a CSV (which might be way easier to do?)? None of these possibilities are explored in the first example. Simply because the question was asked differently.

Business: Be careful how you ask things to be done on your product backlog.

Team: ask for the intent when you’re presented with an ‘implementation’ question

Of course, with Software Development not only ‘the business’ is playing a role. In fact, working Agile simply means that we’re working together. As long as there is an ‘it’ and ‘business’ as separate entities you will never get the full potential and effectiveness of your people. True collaboration means that all ‘entities’ (people!) within the organization are (should be) working together to make that organization as successful as possible, right?

If that’s not the case for you, just get to know each other better (grab a beer?) first. ūüôā

So back to the Backlog item. Considering you get a question as in the first example. How do you get to the intent from there?

One of those ways is to ‘ask why 5 times’. If you take that to literally you might sound like a spoiled brat. (although there is some sense in asking why all the time).

A bit more practical would be to ask questions like:

  • what will [implementation] happen?
  • what do you need [implementation] for?
  • once [implementation] is finished, what will it be used for?

Usually this leads to the intent. As in: “once we have a JSON message, we can send it to [party Y] so they can process orders”. The ‘so that’ part is important. If it’s not clear, don’t be afraid to ask. You don’t ask them because you doubt the business or their competences. You want to be professional, not wasting money, and delivering the actual value.

Business value usually is represented in money. When it is not about money, it usually is tight to the company vision. If you don’t think this is the case, keep asking.

Sometimes there are exceptions. Lets say your product needs a payment provider. And the company has a certain agreement to use Buckaroo for payments. Then in that case you might get the “build buckaroo to process payments” story. Although ideally it is not the story you want. (Especially if it is critical and getting buckaroo to work takes ages, while you know some other payment provider can be implemented with a fraction of the effort).

Team: By exploring intent, you can answer the ‘true’ business need.

This eliminates ‘waste’ on several levels. Waste in time, technology and missed opportunities.

So what does this boil down to? – trust your team

So what does this all mean? That you as manager involve your developers sooner? Preferable before you need to build up services/couplings with 3rd parties? yes!

Before you get into contract negotiation with these parties? yes!

That the team tells you how to process payments? you bet!

That the team decides when to go live? Yup!

Let the team think of how to do cross selling? Or how to make your checkout flow easier? (so don’t hire an external party to deliver a ‘report’ in the team, so they can ‘fix’ it). yes!

Give the team autonomy. (= responsibility). Give the team an intent, and the team will do their best to fulfill that role.

You have to get used to it.

It is exciting.

But above all, it’s awesome in many ways!

Go forth and be great!

Migrating from Spring 3.2.x to Spring 4 and using ‘spring-mock 2.0.8’ gives “java.lang.NoSuchMethodError: org.springframework.core.CollectionFactory.createLinkedMapIfPossible”

So this is a very short post, with a ‘gotcha’. I wasn’t able to find anything about this, thats why I write it down here right now:

If you are migrating from Spring 3 to 4 and you have in your pom.xml the following dependency:


Once you migrate to Spring 4 (lets say 4.0.3.RELEASE) and run your tests you might run into a following stacktrace:

java.lang.NoSuchMethodError: org.springframework.core.CollectionFactory.createLinkedMapIfPossible(I)Ljava/util/Map;
	at org.springframework.mock.web.MockHttpServletRequest.<init>(
	at org.springframework.mock.web.MockHttpServletRequest.<init>(
	at org.springframework.test.context.web.ServletTestExecutionListener.setUpRequestContextIfNecessary(
	at org.springframework.test.context.web.ServletTestExecutionListener.prepareTestInstance(
	at org.springframework.test.context.TestContextManager.prepareTestInstance(
	at org.springframework.test.context.junit4.SpringJUnit4ClassRunner.createTest(
	at org.springframework.test.context.junit4.SpringJUnit4ClassRunner$1.runReflectiveCall(
	at org.springframework.test.context.junit4.SpringJUnit4ClassRunner.methodBlock(
	at org.springframework.test.context.junit4.SpringJUnit4ClassRunner.runChild(
	at org.springframework.test.context.junit4.SpringJUnit4ClassRunner.runChild(
	at org.junit.runners.ParentRunner$
	at org.junit.runners.ParentRunner$1.schedule(
	at org.junit.runners.ParentRunner.runChildren(
	at org.junit.runners.ParentRunner.access$000(
	at org.junit.runners.ParentRunner$2.evaluate(
	at org.springframework.test.context.junit4.statements.RunBeforeTestClassCallbacks.evaluate(
	at org.springframework.test.context.junit4.statements.RunAfterTestClassCallbacks.evaluate(
	at org.apache.maven.surefire.junit4.JUnit4Provider.execute(
	at org.apache.maven.surefire.junit4.JUnit4Provider.executeTestSet(
	at org.apache.maven.surefire.junit4.JUnit4Provider.invoke(
	at sun.reflect.NativeMethodAccessorImpl.invoke0(Native Method)
	at sun.reflect.NativeMethodAccessorImpl.invoke(
	at sun.reflect.DelegatingMethodAccessorImpl.invoke(
	at java.lang.reflect.Method.invoke(
	at org.apache.maven.surefire.util.ReflectionUtils.invokeMethodWithArray(
	at org.apache.maven.surefire.booter.ProviderFactory$ProviderProxy.invoke(
	at org.apache.maven.surefire.booter.ProviderFactory.invokeProvider(
	at org.apache.maven.surefire.booter.ForkedBooter.runSuitesInProcess(
	at org.apache.maven.surefire.booter.ForkedBooter.main(

Then all you need to do is make sure that you *DO NOT* have ‘spring-mock’ still in your dependencies configured. As it seems that ‘spring-test’ has assimilated this in its own JAR in Spring 4.

Remove from POM.xml, re-run tests and be happy again. It took me a while to figure this out. I hope it saved you some time!

Facilitating the Global Day of Coderetreat 2013 in Amsterdam

On the 14th of December 2013 Рthe Global Day of Coderetreat was held at Zilverline. I have experience with coderetreats and also organised one at the 7th of january in 2012, and the GDCR12.

This time I both hosted and facilitated this event. This means that besides practical stuff I also did the talking which I will explain further in this post.¬†This was the first time I did this and I’d like to share how it was. If¬†you want to get an impression of the day you can have a look at this slideshow.

A big thanks to Bob Forma and Diana Sabanovic who helped me with the hosting aspects throughout. This enabled me to mostly focus on facilitating.

I was anxious, especially since last years GDCR was very well done. Back then I had a great experience and I was not sure if I could give the participants the same experience. Yet, I wanted to do this: I just love sharing knowledge and give people something to learn or think about.

After attending the GDCR Facilitator Training by Jim Hurne, I had a clear image of how I wanted the participants to experience the Coderetreat: People having fun, learning from each other and the constraints given.

Thats it.

Continue reading

Terminal: Show git branch, changes, RVM ruby version, gemset.

I was looking for a way to easily print the current gemset I am in when working in the terminal. I found a stack overflow post, but it did not really satisfy me. With some googling I also found this post.

I modified the script a tiny bit (color preferences + added __git_ps1 to detect branch) and would like to share you what I’ve got.

This is the complete script I use now, copy & paste if you like.

The result looks like this:


# This shows the git branch of the current directory
function __git_ps1 () {
git branch 2> /dev/null | sed -e ‘/^[^*]/d’ -e ‘s/* (.*)/ (1)/’

function __git_dirty {
git diff –quiet HEAD &>/dev/null
[ $? == 1 ] && echo " (changes!)"

function __git_branch {
__git_ps1 " %s"

function __my_rvm_ruby_version {
local gemset=$(echo $GEM_HOME | awk -F’@’ ‘{print $2}’)
[ "$gemset" != "" ] && gemset="@$gemset"
local version=$(echo $MY_RUBY_HOME | awk -F’-‘ ‘{print $2}’)
[ "$version" == "1.8.7" ] && version=""
local full="$version$gemset"
[ "$full" != "" ] && echo "$full "

bash_prompt() {
local NONE="[\033[0m]" ¬† ¬†# unsets color to term’s fg color

# regular colors
local K="[\033[0;30m]"    # black
local R="[\033[0;31m]"    # red
local G="[\033[0;32m]"    # green
local Y="[\033[0;33m]"    # yellow
local B="[\033[0;34m]"    # blue
local M="[\033[0;35m]"    # magenta
local C="[\033[0;36m]"    # cyan
local W="[\033[0;37m]"    # white

# emphasized (bolded) colors
local EMK="[\033[1;30m]"
local EMR="[\033[1;31m]"
local EMG="[\033[1;32m]"
local EMY="[\033[1;33m]"
local EMB="[\033[1;34m]"
local EMM="[\033[1;35m]"
local EMC="[\033[1;36m]"
local EMW="[\033[1;37m]"

# background colors
local BGK="[\033[40m]"
local BGR="[\033[41m]"
local BGG="[\033[42m]"
local BGY="[\033[43m]"
local BGB="[\033[44m]"
local BGM="[\033[45m]"
local BGC="[\033[46m]"
local BGW="[\033[47m]"

local UC=$W ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† # user’s color
[ $UID -eq "0" ] && UC=$R ¬† # root’s color

PS1="$M$(__my_rvm_ruby_version)$Wh$W:$EMGw$EMC$(__git_branch)$EMW$(__git_dirty)${NONE} $ "

unset bash_prompt

Compiling Stratagus on Mac OS X (10.8.2)

I loved playing Warcraft 2. I played it on DOSBox recently, but the fact that 640×480 is just plain ugly on my MPB these days made me look for alternatives.

And so I found Stratagus and Wargus.

With Stratagus as engine, Wargus as “MOD” and with the original Warcraft 2 CD you can re-live Warcraft 2 again on your machine.

On Windows you should be able to install this without any problems, installers are provided and these work just fine. However, on a Mac you might be in some hassle to get this working. In fact, there is no official support as none of the authors run a Mac. Basically this means people with Macs had to figure out how to do this. After some time of googling I got Stratagus compiling and working with a Wargus game I already created on Windows.

Fortunately someone at github already made a version that should work on Mac OS X. Combined with a tutorial I found elsewhere I got it to compile. I can play Wargus now on my Mac!

For completeness sake I have combined the steps I have taken (and also forked Stratagus) so you can use that version. Don’t credit me for making Stratagus compile on the Mac though, as I did not make the nescesary changes in the makefile or code.

Install Xcode (from App store) & Install command line tools from Xcode

in Xcode, go to preferences, tab "Downloads" -> " Components" -> Command Line Tools
  • – The command line tools should have installed git and svn for you, try them out:
hit "svn --version", and "git --version" in your terminal.
If they are not installed, you could install them via homebrew (brew install git && brew install svn) (after you installed Homebrew of course)

Install homebrew

ruby -e "$(curl -fsSkL

Installing required dependencies

I have installed the following dependencies with homebrew like this:

brew install cmake libogg libvorbis theora libpng zlib libmikmod sqlite3 doxygen

Compile and build tolua

Go to your projects dir

git clone

cd toluapp

cmake -G "Unix Makefiles"

make && sudo make install

Git clone stratagus

Determine where you want to checkout stratagus, ie in your ~/projects, then:

git clone

Compile it

cd stratagus
mkdir build
cd build
cmake -G "Unix Makefiles" ..

Now you should be able to run a stratagus game. Since I already created Wargus by using Windows, I copied this over to my mac (and put it in ~/projects/Wargus). Then I ran stratagus as:

./stratagus -d ~/projects/wargus/

A known issue I have is that on startup the screen looks as if it is drawing with a weird offset (ie too much out of screen at the upper left). By simply changing resolution this goes away. Don’t know why yet, but since we have the code now and we can compile, we might as well try to fix it some day! ūüôā

Personally I’d like to see a better AI for wargus, especially since I like to play Skirmish games.

I hope this guide helped you get it to work on your mac. Please share your experiences in the comments section.

Getting started with Allegro 5.1 on Mac OS X 10.8 (Xcode 4.5, and homebrew)

In Dune 2 – The Maker, I have used Allegro quite a bit. Back then it was around version 4.2. Allegro is a library that allows you to make games. In essence it has functions for manipulating the screen (ie, drawing bitmaps, manipulating palettes, etc), use controls (mouse, joystick, keyboard, etc) and more. With plugins you could extend it further, to use fonts (TTF), networking, etc.

Currently, the most recent version is Allegro 5 which breaks with the Allegro 4 API and makes it impossible to convert from Allegro 4 to 5 (atleast for D2TM). From a nostalgic perspective I wanted to try Allegro 5 and on my new system which runs Mac OS X 10.8.

In this post I will describe how you can get Allegro 5 working on Mac OS X, under XCode 4.5. I had great help from the documentation provided, and hopefully this post is sufficient for you. If not, I would suggest to checkout this documentation, or this one.

Rough steps

To give you an idea what we’re going to do, here is the installation in very rough form:

  1. – Installing required software
  2. – Installing dependencies to make Allegro more useful and to get it compiling (cmake, etc)
  3. – Compiling Allegro for Xcode, installing it and making sure the Frameworks are installed in /Library/Frameworks
  4. – Setting up an Xcode project to test if Allegro works

Prerequisites (Installing required software)

Requirements for getting started, if you already have this installed you can skip the prerequisites

  • Mac OS X 10.8
  • Xcode 4.5 (with command line tools)
  • Git/SVN
  • Homebrew

Before we can start, we need to have installed some prerequisites. Which are Xcode (you can get this from the App store), git and svn. I have used homebrew to install dependencies, you can also use Macports but I do not have any experience with this. (as far as I can tell it should behave quite the same). My advice would be to install these in the following order:

  • – Xcode
  • – Install command line tools from Xcode
in Xcode, go to preferences, tab "Downloads" -> " Components" -> Command Line Tools
ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL"
  • – The command line tools should have installed git and svn for you, try them out:
hit "svn --version", and "git --version" in your terminal.
If they are not installed, you could install them via homebrew (brew install git && brew install svn)

Installing required dependencies

As suggested by the Allegro 5 wiki we need to install dependencies. The wiki explains how to do it with Macports, but since I am using Homebrew, you need to do it like this:

brew install cmake

brew install zlib
brew install freetype
brew install jpeg
brew install libogg
brew install physfs
brew install libpng
brew install flac
brew install ffmpeg

The first one is cmake, which we will need to build Allegro. Cmake is required to create the OS specific build steps to compile Allegro, without it we cannot proceed. The other dependencies are used to make Allegro more useful. When we prepare to build Allegro in the next section, cmake will check what dependencies are installed. The more it finds, the more features it will provide in Allegro 5.

Note, you might get  a warning about zlib. If thats the case, you can ignore it.

Compiling Allegro for Xcode, and making sure the Frameworks are in /Library/Frameworks

Once we have everything set up, this step is relatively easy. Since we are going to compile it for Xcode, we basically are doing the same as the Allegro wiki is saying.

Open a terminal, and go (cd) to a directory where you want to get allegro’s sources. For example: ~/projects

cd ~/projects

We now need to fetch the sourcecode of Allegro, which we can do by using git clone. At this moment of writing, Allegro 5.1 is the current version. Our git clone command looks like this:

git clone git://

This takes a little while. Once git is done, you have Allegro’s sources in ~/projects/allegro.

Now: cd to allegro, and create a new directory called “build”, then go into that directory.

cd allegro
mkdir build
cd build

The first step is to let cmake (the first dependency we installed) prepare our build, then build it and then install it. This is done by the following:

cmake -G Xcode -DWANT_FRAMEWORKS=1 - ..
sudo xcodebuild install

The last step requires you to enter your password.

I found that the last step did not work for me, in order to fix that I did:

cd lib/RelWithDebInfo

Within here all Frameworks are built. Now copy them over to your /Library/Frameworks directory with sudo. With this:

sudo cp -r *.* /Library/Frameworks/

If you don’t want to copy this over to your Library/Frameworks directory, then you need to remember the path to these frameworks as we are going to need them later.

Setting up an Xcode project and see it all working

This section is a copy & paste + improvement from this page.

  • Start XCode, create a new empty project (Other->Empty)
    Xcode new empty project
  • Add a Cocoa Application target to the project, let’s call it MyGame. (Click your project, then the + button at the bottom saying Add target, then Mac OSX->Application->Cocoa.)
    New cocoa application MyGame
  • Select the MyGame target, go to the Build Phases tab and add a new Copy Files Build Phase (+ button down right).
    • Select Frameworks from the dropdown
    • Leave Subpath blank
    • We leave this build phase empty for now, we will need it later.
      Add new build phase
  • Select the Build Settings tab then:
    • Note: You can change display from Basic to All at the top and use the search box to locate the following settings
    • Change¬†Header Search Paths¬†to (just copy & paste):
      /Library/Frameworks/Allegro-5.1.framework/Versions/Current/Headers /Library/Frameworks/AllegroMain-5.1.framework/Versions/Current/Headers /Library/Frameworks/AllegroAcodec-5.1.framework/Versions/Current/Headers /Library/Frameworks/AllegroAudio-5.1.framework/Versions/Current/Headers /Library/Frameworks/AllegroColor-5.1.framework/Versions/Current/Headers /Library/Frameworks/AllegroDialog-5.1.framework/Versions/Current/Headers /Library/Frameworks/AllegroFont-5.1.framework/Versions/Current/Headers /Library/Frameworks/AllegroImage-5.1.framework/Versions/Current/Headers /Library/Frameworks/AllegroPhysfs-5.1.framework/Versions/Current/Headers /Library/Frameworks/AllegroMemfile-5.1.framework/Versions/Current/Headers /Library/Frameworks/AllegroPrimitives-5.1.framework/Versions/Current/Headers /Library/Frameworks/AllegroTTF-5.1.framework/Versions/Current/Headers

      (yes, it is intended to be one line)
      add framework headers

    • ¬†
    • In the targets¬†Build Settings¬†specify the¬†Framework Search Paths¬†as/Library/Frameworks.add framework search path
      • This is needed to have cross-platform code (#include <allegro5/allegro.h> working – otherwise paths like using #include <Allegro-5.0/allegro5/allegro> would work without changing the search path)
      • If you use another location, one way to save on typing is to double click the input field, then navigate to the Headers folder in each framework and drag it into the xcode input list
    • Delete¬†Prefix Header¬†(Edit->Delete)
      • You can of course use your own prefix headers – but the default Cocoa one will only work with objective C projects that’s why we remove it, assuming MyGame is a cross-platform C/C++ project
  • Add all the Allegro frameworks as follows (this can be done in many ways, a group just keeps things tidy):
    • Select the Summary tab
    • Click the + button under Linked Frameworks and Libraries and add all the Allegro frameworks
      • In case they are not listed use the Add Other button and navigate to /Library/Frameworks to find themadd frameworksselect frameworkslinked frameworks added
    • Go to the Build Phases tab, then in the list to the left select all the Allegro frameworks and drag them to the Copy Files entry which we added before
      drag frameworks to copy build phase
    • Select all the frameworks again and this time drag them to the Frameworks group to the left (just to have things more tidy)
  • Don’t forget to remove the created source files under MyGame and add your own source code instead (note the main.m in Supporting Files for example)
    • Create a new main.c
      create new main
    • Give it the following content:
#include <allegro5/allegro.h>

int main(int argc, char **argv) {
   al_create_display(640, 480);
   al_clear_to_color(al_map_rgb_f(1, 1, 0));
   return 0;


  • Cannot find header files: Make sure you have set the header paths correctly. Try to copy the one line given above, into your header paths (remove old ones first). If that does not work. Try adding them one by one, to make it easier to copy/paste I have provided them for you separately as well:
  • Compiling works fine, linking does not work: Make sure you have¬†specified the¬†Framework Search Paths¬†as/Library/Frameworks.

OS X (10.8) Mountain Lion path settings not ‘picked up’ in RubyMine

Recently I have switched jobs to Zilverline.

And so far I love it there.

One of the things I now work in is OS X (10.8.2). I am programming in Ruby using RubyMine. I think RubyMine is great (especially since I am coming from IntelliJ as a Java programmer).

However, one of the things that bugged me was path variables not picking up in RubyMine.

From terminal all my stuff works great. Ie, rake spec, rails, etc. No problem.

However it seems RubyMine does not launch with the same path variables set as you terminal does. Also, the suggestions for does not work in OS X 10.8.

There where two ways for me to get around this problem. One is to simply launch RubyMine from terminal:

open -a /Applications/

Because you launch it from the terminal itself, RubyMine will get all the environment settings from there.

Another way was to edit the default settings in RubyMine for (in this case) rSpec:


And set the environmental path with value:



Now all rspec tests will use this environment path and run fine.

Slick 64 bit and Linux

Recently I wanted to run Slick on linux in a 64 bits environment. I got it working on Windows a while ago but I forgot to include natives for Linux and Mac OS X.

To get it working on Linux I simply redid the steps I did back then. I’ve tested the results on Linux and also on Windows, with success!

If you are interested, then you can grab the natives here; and the JARs from here.

(or just simply clone dune2themaker4j and get it all in one go)