"There are people who wrote Nokia apps kicking themselves": BDD inventor Dan North keynotes Agile on the Beach

Agile on the Beach, a two day business and technology conference focused on the latest developments in agile methodology, is now in full swing down in Cornwall.

Taking place at the University of Falmouth's Penryn campus, the event features some 30 UK-based and international speakers and centres on three specific strands of agile adoption: business strategy, teams, and software craftmanship.

Kicking things off this morning was Dan North, inventor of the the behaviour-driven development (BDD) process, whose keynote was themed around the "journey to mastery."

Now a leading technology consultant, North's address likened agile development to a number of other complex trades - from classical music composition to ice hockey by way of origami - to underline the importance of both learning and practicing coding skills.

He also stressed the need for developers to reconcile their desire to create "beautiful code" with an appreciation of projects that are fit for purpose, or "beautiful enough."

"The thing I'm doing when I'm writing software isn't writing software, not necessarily. 'Done' is when the thing I do has a material impact, hopefully positive, on the business - that [means] it was worth doing. If the answer is, it doesn't, then I've just wasted time [and] all that beautiful code [and] wonderful products didn't matter. I expect there are people who wrote Nokia apps kicking themselves right now," North said.

He also encouraged aspiring developers to hone their skills through real world projects, as opposed to being overly reliant on tutorials or practice exercises.

North continued: "If you learn to swim with armbands, you learn to swim with armbands – it's not swimming...The best programmers I know practice by doing."

"The sense of achievement when you've done that piece of code or offered that patch, and it has been accepted and now your [creation] is an open-source project somewhere? Woohoo!"

Agile on the Beach also served as the platform for Cornish software development company Headforwards to announce the continuation of its partnership with Japanese telecoms giant NTT.

Building on two years of successful collaboration, Headforwards and NTT Europe announced the new deal as the conference kicked off.

"We looked at various outsourcing options and locations around the world as well as the UK and found Headforwards to be a very attractive new alternative. Being located in the UK they work in the same timezone, language and country as our internal team. We needed high quality software developed with the agility to meet our changing business needs, and Headforwards have enabled us to do just that," commented John Salter, director of operation support systems at NTT Europe.