I attended deliver:Agile in Nashville and co-facilitated a session called Strangle Your Legacy Code with Markus Silpala. As a group, we practiced adding features to an old SMTP server without modifying its code. Then we reflected on the potential applications, benefits, and risks of the Strangler application pattern.

Photo by Avdi Grimm
Me, some code, and some clasped hands


Given an ancient codebase that makes refactoring risky and expensive, how do you clear a path to continued delivery? The old wisdom says the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, and the next best time is today. But if you already have a gnarled old source tree, preserve your software investment by planting a Strangler: a pattern for reaping continuous value from your existing system while growing new functionality alongside it.

We’ll take a quick look at a Strangler, demonstrate the basics of Mob Programming, then split into small groups to test-drive new features into the system. You’ll leave with a powerful strategy for extending the useful life of working, valuable software — especially when it’s hard to change — and with a free bonus development practice to accelerate your team’s learning. For a limited time only!

You can find our code, our learnings, and links to more resources in the…

Wondering what this interactive, participatory session was like? Take a look at Derek Graham’s writeup from last summer.

Wondering what might make it better? Markus got some excellent feedback (I had to head straight for the airport) and synthesized some ideas.


After missing last year’s event, I was happy to be back at the Agile Alliance’s tech-focused conference. (I’d been part of the first two “AATC”s, and enjoyed them greatly.) Markus and I have been remote-pairing daily since November, so it was a treat (and doubtless beneficial for our client) to get to room with him and co-facilitate something again.

Lots of other highlights, too. This conference is always a who’s who of folks I’ve been lucky to learn from and get to know, and a chance to deepen both. For instance, until Tuesday at deliver:Agile, I don’t think I’d managed to catch a quiet Ron-and-Chet chat since I stopped consulting in southeast Michigan. The best of many moments, though, might have been while catching up with James Grenning. He’d just been encouraging me to continue along my current path when someone came up to us — bound for James, I assumed — to shake my hand and thank me for my blog posts, podcasts, and generally being me. That would have made my night under most any circumstances, and I told him it did. All the more so, given how and when.

Chief lowlights: several people I didn’t get near enough time with.

Guess I’ll have to come back next year. :-)

Missed it?

Invite me to present internally for your organization in the NY metro area. Or take a look at my upcoming speaking engagements and some conferences and meetups I’m considering.

Loved it?

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Get in touch.