Measuring Development Speed

We’re rewriting the Mifos front-end from Struts 1.0/JSP to SpringMVC/Freemarker. So far it’s been slow going, so we’re trying out several experiments to speed up the process.

I think it’s important to measure the impact of our improvements. I want to know: are we moving faster? Is product quality flourishing? Can we say so quantitatively? The last bit has been the most elusive. It’s like measuring how useful a painting is!

Still, here are some measures which we hope will eventually show how much the improvements are or are not helping. Right now we’re just establishing baseline data.

The red line in the graph represents legacy front-end code that will eventually disappear. The green line is new code, but it really doesn’t matter.

From the chart data, we can say the following by measuring deltas between points: the most dramatic change in Struts/jsp LOC was 4380, for the time period ending Aug 2010.  The most dramatic change in SpringMVC/ftl LOC was 3665, for the time period ending Sep 2010.


  • these data are not useful for estimating speed of future refactoring work
  • all acceptance tests pass in refactored areas
  • look & feel of refactored areas is acceptable

The 2nd & third bullets are a bit vague. To address this shortfall, we’ll measure the following aspects of quality:

  1. Time spent modifying CreateSavingsAccountTest.
  2. Number of issues (regressions) caught during CSS walk through.
  3. Number of layout or functional bugs logged during testing phase (missed during walk through).
  4. Time spent by QA manually testing the feature, including logging issues and retesting bugs fixes.

Finally, developers should know if things are better. This is the most qualitative and possibly the most important “measure”! Certainly, for the migration of our codebase from svn to git, it was the only measure we used, and it was enough.

Thoughts/comments/feedback are appreciated. I’d rather have some kind of simpler measure, like “x increased by 250%”. Do you know of any more effective (and hopefully simpler) means of measuring development speed?

I used gnuplot to generate the graph. Here’s the source.

Mifos opportunity: i18n

We need help with i18n (and support of L10n) in Mifos. Are you interested in becoming the Mifos i18n champion? It’s a great volunteer opportunity! The work should be intermittent, and basically at your leisure. One of the really fun parts is working with the folks at… they added a bunch of messages from our “questionnaire” module, and after a few days it was completely translated to Interlingua, Macedonian, Dutch, Norwegian, and Finnish! There’s an army of talented translators ready to help.

Here are some example tasks for the i18n champion:

  • Make sure messages in Mifos are translatable.
  • Document messages and resolve issues mentioned on our Translator Helpdesk.
  • Hang out in #mediawiki-i18n (an IRC channel on Freenode), answer Mifos questions when they come up, or add them to the Translator Helpdesk.
  • Work on specific i18n issues: MIFOS-3859, MIFOS-3821, MIFOS-2018 and others.
  • Improve and refine the Mifos i18n/L10n guide.

See also: #Mifos, #microfinancing and #Wikimedia


A day after I sent out this call for help we got two volunteers! Thank you, Stanley Kwok and Jasmine Sandhu!

Mifos Manual as an ebook

I learned about ebooks last week. Very cool! I’ve found them much more readable than PDFs or Web pages. Maybe it’s the ebook readers… they sure help me focus on the content.

Since we used FLOSS Manuals to write our manual, it’s easy to generate an ebook using Objavi. Here’s the Mifos Manual as an ebook. Looks pretty good on the iPhone (lately I’ve been using “Stanza”). Probably looks even better on a Nook, Kindle, or iPad.

FLOSS technical/dev summits: why? how? with Tarus Balog of OpenNMS

Tarus Balog is the CEO of the OpenNMS Group, a company which funds the development of OpenNMS: FLOSS enterprise network monitoring software. OpenNMS lets you know when your machines go down, among other things. I use OpenNMS at work to keep Mifos infrastructure up and running: build servers, cloud, databases, etc.

Our corner of the Grameen Foundation focusing on Technology for Microfinance has a lot to learn from OpenNMS! They’re also FLOSS, and they’re profitable.

I talked with Tarus the other day. Turns out he’s a really cool guy. I’ve been following his blog closely for quite a while now, so I was thrilled with the chance to pick his brain. The point of the call was to find out why and how they run their developer summits: in-person meetings where coding, alignment, teambuilding and planning are plentiful. OpenNMS hosts these yearly, and we’d like to do them for Mifos.

Continue reading FLOSS technical/dev summits: why? how? with Tarus Balog of OpenNMS

The Mifos user manual sprint; how we’ll break Brooks’s law

I’m really excited for the Mifos user manual sprint tomorrow. We’re using FLOSS Manuals to write our new user manual. FLOSS Manuals is an exciting way to write a book, it provides a framework for high-bandwidth collaboration, publishing to HTML and print, translating, and more. There are many examples of small teams (less than 10 people) publishing large, excellent books in short time periods (less than a week).

We’ll have a video feed going. I’ll be wearing my track suit.

Check out our coordination wiki page and stop by our IRC channel if you’d like to join in! If you’ve ever edited text on a wiki, are brave enough to learn how, or just want to see me in a track suit, come on by.

I suppose I should explain the title of this post. If we can establish a framework for software development on Mifos like we’re running this sprint, we can break Brooks’s law. Why not? The Ksplice folks did it, so we can too!

Sun, help!

The Subversion repository I use at work is hosted by Performance is generally on the slow side, but lately, the server is frequently going down. The most recent outage was more than 24 hours. Since Subversion is a centralized version control system, server uptime is critical. Without access to the server, we can’t view logs, commit, merge, or update.

Why is performance so bad? Why does the server keep failing? Sun and CollabNet have been responsive (thank you Sonya and Eric!) but mainly all we hear is “we’re working on it”.

The outages are costing us. If service doesn’t improve, we need to move to another provider. SourceForge sounds hopeful, especially since we can directly migrate over our Subversion repository and, eventually, switch to a dVCS like Mercurial.

Mifos in the Google Summer of Code 2009

Mifos has been accepted for the Google Summer of Code 2009! Working on Mifos has been my full-time job since October of 2007. The Google Summer of Code is an awesome program funded by Google wherein students get paid to work on FLOSS. Yay!

If you’re an eligible and interested student, check out our ideas page, hop on IRC during US/Pacific business hours, ask away on the mailing list, download the code, try building it, etc. and we’ll get you signed up!