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Human DevOps

Friday 8th December - Happiness Engineering

Published 6 months ago • 3 min read

Today's bumper roundup edition includes three posts from the last three weeks. I will attempt to make this newsletter regular on a Friday soon, but I also don't want to make promises I can't keep. Hopefully, every issue gives you something useful, and I would like to keep it that way!

Through a tumultuous year in tech that has seen layoffs and turnarounds, the machine keeps on ​moving.

What are your plans for 2024? Well advanced or not yet taking shape? After a cautious year, it's too early to say that there is optimism, but after a lot of hype and not some drama, there are finally signs that AI coding assistants are turning from parlour tricks into a more sustainable way of working. For example, this recent presentation from Jetbrains shows how prompt engineering, alongside their usual array of refactoring tools can make for a compelling workflow.

I'm a big fan of Jetbrains Rider (I am not sponsored by Jetbrains by the way) and am currently booting up a .NET project with the MAUI framework to target cross-platform applications. MAUI is the replacement for the Xamarin framework and if you're into .NET and want to build Android and iOS apps from the same codebase you could do worse. I'm a big believer in Keeping It Simple, Stupid - I like .NET, I like Jetbrains therefore this seems like a pleasant avenue to try. Additionally, I'm trying out Supabase's backend - again I'm not sponsored by them - just lazy.

In between trying out frameworks, I'm also trying out platform tools. I met with the CEO of Humanitec yesterday to discuss their platform tool and to see how my client's relatively modest (by bank or retailer standards) CI/CD and cloud infrastructure might be improved by integrating their products. The heart of Humanitec's product is their Score domain specific language, which is essentially YAML definitions of your connectable DevOps components. This is immediately interesting to me as we have already gone some way to building disparate YAML-based (declarative) pipelines for individuals services, i.e., for deploying applications and requesting repositories. Score combined with some of Humanitec's orchestration abilities may be useful, but I suspect it will be too much for our needs at this time. I've also been running a Backstage POC, which also seems to be too much effort for too little rewards for our specific requirements.

If you want to know more about either of these then feel free to get in touch. I'll be writing up these POCs in some more detail in the coming weeks.

Related to this technical work, I've also been busy speaking, writing and thinking some more about the heart of what gets me excited about building software and DevOps. I recently spoke at the DevOops meetup in Amsterdam about platforms and putting them into context in your organisation. Additionally, I've been thinking about how happy organizations are efficient ones, and how tension arises while creating software. I wrote an article diving deeper into the connection between the software we make and our organizational structure (Conway's Law) and gave some thought to how we can not only prioritise organizational structure to improve our software, but also prioritise happiness.

The corollary is that the best automation comes from scratching that itch. We are happy when we have automated some mundane or annoying task away, and every day should be an opportunity to do that.

Have a great weekend.

-- Richard


Optimizing for Happiness

Published on December 7, 2023

The nature of software is a philosophical problem for the ages. How can something seemingly so abstract have such crucial real-world applications? Those lucky enough to contribute to the software world will usually only touch the surface of something that becomes ever more complex as it grows. Complexity brings difficulty. Difficulty is a challenge for… Read More »Optimizing for Happiness

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Daily Habits: The Advent of Code

Published on December 1, 2023

Today is the day that the lazy coder in me has been waiting for all year. I like the challenge of the Advent of Code – or rather I like it until it becomes too hard (and therefore boring) for me. It serves as an annual reminder of a few things: Now, I’m not one… Read More »Daily Habits: The Advent of Code

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The Successful Platform is a Product

Published on November 24, 2023

“A platform isn’t always planned. It can be an engineering reaction to an organisational constraint.” I gave a talk this week in Amsterdam about how the inescapable gravity of Conway’s Law means that your organisation will eventually constrain your most valuable assets, your platform teams. In this talk, I emphasised how platform teams are inevitable… Read More »The Successful Platform is a Product

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Human DevOps

by Richard Bown

DevOps at is the heart of modern software systems. In my regular newsletter, I dive into the human factors that make successful engineering organizations where teams and platforms thrive at the heart of your socio-technical systems. From leadership to team setup, maximizing performance, tools and techniques.

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