25 Agilists to Follow on Twitter

  May 01, 2011

Want to listen in on the tweets from the most instructive people in the Agile community? Here’s where to find sage advice in 140 characters or less.

With only 24 hours in a day, you certainly can't follow every person on Twitter, or even all of the people who claim to be experts in Agile software development. What I provide below is meant to be a starting point.

This is not a list of Capital-A Agilists, at least, not strictly speaking a list of the best known people in the Agile community. No, I choose to make something a little bit different: a list of people worth listening to. The individuals I recommend here may have a decent following, may be a contrarian, or might just be an "undiscovered gem." Finally, some of the people are busy doing the work, leaving little time for self promotion. In that case, my preference is for people with a long view: the ones who have done "Agile" work, then stuck around for years to see the long-term consequences.

All that said, here's the kicker: For me to include someone for my list, the person has to actually talk about software in an interesting way that provides some value. Sure, every now and again these people might tweet about national events, finance, or what they had for breakfast, but the majority of the Twitter stream should be interesting ideas you can put to use.

Enough about the list; let's get to it. In no particular order ...

Ron Jeffries

Tweets as: @RonJeffries

Blogs at: Hot Needle of Inquiry

Known for: Co-Authoring the Agile Manifesto, serving on the first Extreme Programming (XP) team and co-authoring Extreme Programming: Installed.

Why follow him? Ron is often right, occasionally wrong – but never boring.

Jurgen Appelo

Tweets as: @JurgenAppelo

Blogs at: NOOP.NL

Known for: A CTO-level technologist and manager, Jurgen earned his reputation by doing exhaustive amounts of research and reading on management and compressing them into small summaries (including a list or two). In 2009 he created his first book, Management 3.0, which is quickly becoming a standard reference in the field of actual leadership in Agile Work.

Why follow him? Jurgen applies Agile concepts to problems traditionally "handed off" to Senior Management, including some answers you might not expect.

Ward Cunningham

Tweets as: @WardCunningham

Blogs at: The C2 Wiki (Sort of)

Known for: You name it! Ward co-created Extreme Programming, invented FIT, the Framework for Integrated Tests, attended the Snowbird Conference where the Agile Manifesto was penned, and created the wiki! (He's got expertise.)

Why follow him? C'mon. Really?

Jason Huggins

Tweets as: @Hugs

Blogs at: Not much lately, but jrandolph.com

Known for: Creator of the Selenium Web Testing Framework, ThoughtWorks Alumni, Google Alumni, now company co-founder.

Why Follow Him? A very real, pragmatic vision for testing products as services, testing in the cloud, and, of course, the future of Selenium.

Ken Schwaber

Tweets as: @KSchwaber

Blogs at: Telling it like it is

Known for: Developing the modern Scrum Method (with Jeff Sutherland), Co-Creator of the Scrum Alliance, lead author of Agile Software Development with Scrum.

Why follow him? Brilliant insights into how organizations deal with pressure and change.

Robert C. Martin

Tweets as: @unclebobmartin

Blogs at: The CleanCoder Blog

Known for: Leadership in the software craftsmanship movement and early Extreme Programming Adopter, UncleBob wrote Clean Code, designed CleanCoders.com and is a proponent of software professionalism.

Why follow him? Robert Martin presents a clear and compelling way forward for software professionalism and technical excellence in the 21st century.

Jon Bach

Tweets at: @JBTestPilot

Blogs at: Jbtestpilot.Wordpress.Com

Known for: Co-creator, with his brother James, of Session-Based Test Management, Jon is known as the “light touch” of the family. No slouch himself, Jon has been a test manager for years, currently serving as a director of test at EBay.

Why follow him? Jon continues to do cutting-edge work figuring out how to best integrate exploratory test techniques into this “thing” we call “Agile,” separating dogma from what actually works.

Kent Beck

Tweets as: @KentBeck

Blogs at: The Three Rivers Institute

Known for: Creator of jUnit and the xUnit series of frameworks, Kent was a co-creator of Extreme Programming, and authored a half dozen books on TDD, XP, and Agile themes.

Why follow him? Like @UncleBob, Kent Beck has had considerable commercial success, yet made a conscious decision to remain technical. His ideas for Extreme Programming and Test Driven Development revolutionized the industry. You have to wonder: What's next?

Yves Hanoulle

Tweets as: @YvesHanoulle

Blogs at: Hanoulle.be

Known for: Creator of the agile conference calendar, leadership game, the agile games google group, and doing lots and lots of hands-on Agile coaching.

Why follow him? Serious about Agile coaching, work/life balance, and tough choices, Yves's thinking offers a European flair that keeps life interesting.

Melissa Bugai

Tweets at: @MelBugai

Blogs at: melbugai.blogspot.com

Known for: Pioneering the exploratory tester role in a 20-odd-person high functioning XP shop where she picked up a love and appreciation for user experience design. Oh, the stories Mel could tell! She now has a passion for cross-discipline whole-team software development approaches.

Why Follow Her? The intersection of extreme programming, exploratory testing, usability and user experience, and, lately, entrepreneurship.

Alistair Cockburn

Tweets at: @TotherAlistair

Blogs at: Alistair.Cockburn.us (Sort Of)

Known for: Researching software methods for IBM in the 1990s, landing on something like Agile; wrote several books on Agile methods, and served as lead organizer for the Snowbird Conference that produced the Manifesto.

Why follow him? Only dude I've ever met who could re-write the "I come not to bury Caesar but to praise him" speech from Shakespeare, replacing "Caesar" with "Agile," then give that speech as a keynote at the Agile Conference. No, seriously.

James Bach

Tweets at: @JamesMarcusBach

Blogs at: Satisfice.com

Known for: A test manager at Apple, Borland Software, and other high-tech companies before Agile was a “thing,” James is probably best known as the original public advocate of skilled exploratory testing.

Why follow him? A bit of a software process naturalist, James thinks deeply about where bugs come from, and the best ways to find them. He'll challenge you, he'll push you, he'll say things you disagree with... and you'll be better for it.

Chet Hendrickson

Tweets at: @ChetHendrickson

Blogs at: As it turns out, not so much

Known for: Working on the first Extreme Programming team with Ron Jeffries, later going on to partner with him in speaking and training.

Why follow him? Witty, sharp and honest, Chet seeks first to understand... then tells it like it is.

Elisabeth Hendrickson

Tweets at: @TestObsessed

Blogs at: TestObsessed.com

Known for: Acting as a champion of Agile Testing (including a Google Tech Talk), combined with some serious technical chops. Plus she is a principal at Agilistry Studio, an amazing place to study Agile techniques by doing.

Why follow her? If you don't get ideas for simulations, games, and specific things to do just by hanging around Elisabeth... wow. That'd be weird.

Adam Goucher

Tweets as: @AdamGoucher

Blogs at: Adam.Goucer.Ca and Element34.ca

Known for: Selenium Automation Heavy-Lifting, consulting, contracting, and lots and lots of doing.

Why follow him? Having trouble building with your test/checking infrastructure for Agile? Adam is the man.

Chris McMahon

Tweets at: @Chris_McMahon

Blogs at: chrismcmahonsblog.blogspot.com

Known for: Ruby/Watir adoptee Number One, Chris has been writing browser-driving test automation since it was possible to do so, including large scale projects, almost entirely working from home.

Why follow him? Want to talk about managing remote work? Chris is the master.

Ted M. Young

Tweets as: @jitterted

Blogs at: tedmyoung.blogsome.com

Known for: Leading the Agile evolution as a coder, manager of coders and testers, and Agile coach for over four years in an enterprise software product company.

Why follow him? Every now and again Ted says something really pithy, thought-provoking, or quotable.

James Highsmith

Tweets as: @JimHighSmith

Blogs at: Jim Highsmith Adaptive Imagineering: Changing the way IT does business

Known for: His research on adaptive complex systems, applying that research to software development. Also author of the Agile Project Management book.

Why follow him? Jim talks about Agile software development in terms senior management can understand. More importantly, you can learn how to do that by listening to him.

George Dinwiddie

Tweets at: @gdinwiddie

Blogs at: blog.gdinwiddie.com

Known for: Coaching with a full range of skills: technical programming and testing, Agile process, team-building, dealing with change, team management.

Why follow him? To add variety to your tweets.

Tim Ottinger

Tweets as: @tottinge

Blogs at: Blogsome.com and blogspot.com.

Known for: The co-creator of the Agile in a Flash cards, Tim is also a contributor to Clean Code. (And also a writer for Software Quality Connection.)

Why follow him? There is no “magic” to Tim; what you see it what you get (and that's a good thing). A coach, writer, and programmer who cares about his job, doing it well, and is willing to talk about it with the world.

Jon Kern

Tweets as: @JonKernPA

Blogs at: TechnicalDebt.com

Known for: Yet Another Agile Manifesto Co-Author (YAAMCA), Jon is also a founding board member of the Agile Alliance and co-author of Java Design (Second Edition).

Why follow him? Jon has serious programming chops, enough grey hairs to be able to say "that reminds of the time...," and a sense of humor to make the story worth listening to.

Bob Marshall

Tweets as: @FlowChainSensei

Blogs at: Amplify.com

Known for: Applying ideas from lean manufacturing to software development in a way that (shockingly!) actually makes sense.

Why follow him? Bob combines expertise in multiple disciplines to make a tasty cocktail. Once you have a whiff, you'll want more.

Dave Rooney

Tweets as: @DaveRooneyCA

Blogs at: practicalagility.blogspot.com

Known for: Agile coaching with a Canadian Flair, along with just a little bit of Coaching-the-Coaches.

Why follow him? Survival tips for new Agile coaches, political tips for established Agile coaches, and career tips for everyone else.

Michael Feathers

Tweets as: @MFeathers

Blogs at: Michael Feathers

Known for: Michael wrote the book on working effectively with legacy code, and he got that expertise the hard way by consulting on complex legacy systems projects. Michael is now Chief Scientist at Obtiva.

Why follow him? Programming expertise, programming expertise, and, well... programming expertise.

Janet Gregory

Tweets as: @JanetGregoryCA

Blogs at: janetgregory.blogspot.com

Known for: Co-author of the Agile-Testing book; training, seminars, and coaching for teams on Agile conversions.

Why follow her?: Janet combines her programming, coaching, and requirements-by-example experience to help teams succeed with doing work in a self-organized, self-directed way.

Where to go for more

Space and time does not permit a full list, so I tried to hit the highlights. If you do have more time and energy and want to keep reading, I highly recommend Jurgen Appelo's List of Top 200 Software Development Blogs, and Steven Machtelinckx's more recent Top 100 Software Testing Blog list.

Who did we miss? I encourage you to add more Agilistas To Follow in the comments.