Tim Ottinger

Senior Consultant

Tim is committed to understanding and improving the art of software from the angle of “thinking for a living.” He is a programmer, author, trainer and globally recognized coach with over 35 years of real software development experience. His style is practical and hands-on, steeped in both Agile and classic traditions. Tim rapidly communicates concepts and practices, and is recognized for his compassionate and patient approach to working with individuals and has a sincere interest in helping people reach their goals.

Tim believes that he and his fellow employees at Industrial Logic can make the world of software development more humane, safe and intelligently productive. He has an infectious enthusiasm for learning and coding, a surprisingly fresh willingness to experiment and grow in new directions, and the experience to focus his energy for the good of a team, a product, and a company.

Tim is an active speaker and author with a long history of speaking on technical and organizational topics at conferences and gatherings, from SIGS conferences in the 90s to Agile conferences today. He is an insightful author with writing credits in Clean Code, Pragmatic Bookshelf magazine, the C++ Report, Software Quality Connection, and other publications over the years. His breakthrough use of speed-training aids is the basis for the book Agile In A Flash, co-written with Jeff Langr.

He lives in northern Illinois between Chicago and the Wisconsin state line with his wife and boys, and more computers than people. He enjoys cooking, playing musical instruments, watching Science fiction or horror movies, entertaining, and of course reading. He and his wife share a passion for sightseeing and photography – a way of bringing their love of nature and art together and freeze a few memories. He looks forward to having some time to build his standing desk, a purchase made with his health and safety bonus. Tim is an Anzeneer.

With Tim programming since the late ‘70s, there are few things he hasn’t done. His career has included work in many industries and disciplines, including military apps, medical/healthcare, tax and accounting, warehouse automation, code generation, telecommunications, industrial machines, and construction payment processing to name just a few.

Tim credits his early learning and training to independent study and having great mentors. He worked directly with Joel Erdwinn, an amazing graybeard programmer working in aerospace and computer science. Tim had the honor of working with Professor Ralph Johnson and the Hillside Group in the early days of the patterns movement. While there, he spent time with Don Roberts, Brian Marick, Brian Foote and many other software gurus.

He continued to work with programming legends, including Robert Martin. While there, he shared ideas with Michael Feathers (legacy code fame), David Chelimsky (rspec), Dean Wampler (scala), James Grenning (embedded C/C++), and Jeff Langr (Agile Java, TDD for C++). While at Progeny Linux Systems, Tim worked with Ian Murdoch, founder of the Debian project. He is now honored to work with Bill Wake and Joshua Kerievsky, both noted programmers and authors.

Agile 2013, Nashville, TN: The most valuable practice your team is avoiding.

Mid Atlantic Developer Expo 2012

Agile 2009: Distributed Pair Programming

Active blogger on Agile Software Development and safe software practices.

Agile in a Flash: Speed-Learning Agile Software Development

Contributing author (Chapter 2) for Clean Code

Apologize In Code

Contributing writer for many publications including The Pragmatic Bookshelf, the C++ Report, and Software Quality Connection.

Ottinger's Rules for Variable and Class Naming

Use Vim Like a Pro

Tim Ottinger on how TDD challenges your conventions

Q: What does your work involve? 
 
I'm split between developing IL products and working with clients, so I'm able to exercise both the technical and social sides of my personality.
 
My work with clients is about 20% education, training people in basic Agile values and practices, and 80% is all in joining shoulder-to-shoulder with them so they can see how the principles and practices apply in their daily work.

Q: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself - your education, interests, past work experiences.

I'm a graybeard programmer now. I've been in software since 1979, and have spent a lot of my career jumping between implementation-only and consulting. I've been in taxes, military contracting, factory and warehouse automation, telecommunications, construction industry systems, and dozens of other verticals. I've usually written some code and done some training. I used to teach OO to world class high-energy physicists, too, and that was a real kick!
 
Having started in 1979,  I am technically undereducated, but have been self-educating for 30+ years and have had great mentors (a tradition I continue here) from academia and professional circles. A lot of people are jealous of my list of mentors. I'm a lucky stiff. I have some publications to my name, and more coming.
 
I love making stuff work, I love working with teams, and I am constantly fascinated by cog sci and other pop sci. Lately I've been falling in love all over again with great papers on software engineering from the past. Dijkstra is no less valid today than when his words were new.
 
Q: That is great. Tell us what appeals to you about coaching?
 
Coaching is helping people acquire and apply skills in a context. I owe a lot to my mentors, and I suppose in addition to enjoying this work, I am paying forward the great kindnesses that were given to me. I like to see people falling back in love with their work, and celebrating their victories.
 
Q: What is a typical day at work like?
 
(laughs) I'm not sure what a typical day is like.
 
Most of my days involve pairing, thinking, sometimes coding, and always trying to see the next step in the evolution of my teams and their organizations. Some days are spent helping to set up environments (organizational, technical, and physical) so that teams can enjoy their work and do it more fluently than ever before.
 
Q: How has Lean changed hour practice of Agile?
 
Lean gives us a vocabulary to think with that we didn't have before. It has helped push the agile principles higher in the organization, to more decision-makers.  Mostly, it has reminded us to see the whole and reach for a more carefully targeted, fluid work system.
 
Q: What do you do to relax?
 
I have a family, a small collection of guitars, and a love of really bad "B" movies. I like cooking, especially when it involves lots of sharp knives or hot chili peppers. When time allows, I also love taking the Nikon out on sightseeing trips.
 
Q: What does the future hold for you - any exciting plans, developments?
 
I'm thinking about another book or two, possibly one through PragPub and another through LeanPub. I'm overflowing with ideas about coaching, testing, Object-Oriented development and teaching programming to nonprogrammers.

Tim on YouTube

Experience

With Tim programming since the late ‘70s, there are few things he hasn’t done. His career has included work in many industries and disciplines, including military apps, medical/healthcare, tax and accounting, warehouse automation, code generation, telecommunications, industrial machines, and construction payment processing to name just a few.

Tim credits his early learning and training to independent study and having great mentors. He worked directly with Joel Erdwinn, an amazing graybeard programmer working in aerospace and computer science. Tim had the honor of working with Professor Ralph Johnson and the Hillside Group in the early days of the patterns movement. While there, he spent time with Don Roberts, Brian Marick, Brian Foote and many other software gurus.

He continued to work with programming legends, including Robert Martin. While there, he shared ideas with Michael Feathers (legacy code fame), David Chelimsky (rspec), Dean Wampler (scala), James Grenning (embedded C/C++), and Jeff Langr (Agile Java, TDD for C++). While at Progeny Linux Systems, Tim worked with Ian Murdoch, founder of the Debian project. He is now honored to work with Bill Wake and Joshua Kerievsky, both noted programmers and authors.

Specialties

Agile 2013, Nashville, TN: The most valuable practice your team is avoiding.

Mid Atlantic Developer Expo 2012

Agile 2009: Distributed Pair Programming

Publications

Active blogger on Agile Software Development and safe software practices.

Agile in a Flash: Speed-Learning Agile Software Development

Contributing author (Chapter 2) for Clean Code

Apologize In Code

Contributing writer for many publications including The Pragmatic Bookshelf, the C++ Report, and Software Quality Connection.

Ottinger's Rules for Variable and Class Naming

Use Vim Like a Pro

Tim Ottinger on how TDD challenges your conventions

Q&A

Q: What does your work involve? 
 
I'm split between developing IL products and working with clients, so I'm able to exercise both the technical and social sides of my personality.
 
My work with clients is about 20% education, training people in basic Agile values and practices, and 80% is all in joining shoulder-to-shoulder with them so they can see how the principles and practices apply in their daily work.

Q: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself - your education, interests, past work experiences.

I'm a graybeard programmer now. I've been in software since 1979, and have spent a lot of my career jumping between implementation-only and consulting. I've been in taxes, military contracting, factory and warehouse automation, telecommunications, construction industry systems, and dozens of other verticals. I've usually written some code and done some training. I used to teach OO to world class high-energy physicists, too, and that was a real kick!
 
Having started in 1979,  I am technically undereducated, but have been self-educating for 30+ years and have had great mentors (a tradition I continue here) from academia and professional circles. A lot of people are jealous of my list of mentors. I'm a lucky stiff. I have some publications to my name, and more coming.
 
I love making stuff work, I love working with teams, and I am constantly fascinated by cog sci and other pop sci. Lately I've been falling in love all over again with great papers on software engineering from the past. Dijkstra is no less valid today than when his words were new.
 
Q: That is great. Tell us what appeals to you about coaching?
 
Coaching is helping people acquire and apply skills in a context. I owe a lot to my mentors, and I suppose in addition to enjoying this work, I am paying forward the great kindnesses that were given to me. I like to see people falling back in love with their work, and celebrating their victories.
 
Q: What is a typical day at work like?
 
(laughs) I'm not sure what a typical day is like.
 
Most of my days involve pairing, thinking, sometimes coding, and always trying to see the next step in the evolution of my teams and their organizations. Some days are spent helping to set up environments (organizational, technical, and physical) so that teams can enjoy their work and do it more fluently than ever before.
 
Q: How has Lean changed hour practice of Agile?
 
Lean gives us a vocabulary to think with that we didn't have before. It has helped push the agile principles higher in the organization, to more decision-makers.  Mostly, it has reminded us to see the whole and reach for a more carefully targeted, fluid work system.
 
Q: What do you do to relax?
 
I have a family, a small collection of guitars, and a love of really bad "B" movies. I like cooking, especially when it involves lots of sharp knives or hot chili peppers. When time allows, I also love taking the Nikon out on sightseeing trips.
 
Q: What does the future hold for you - any exciting plans, developments?
 
I'm thinking about another book or two, possibly one through PragPub and another through LeanPub. I'm overflowing with ideas about coaching, testing, Object-Oriented development and teaching programming to nonprogrammers.

Tim on YouTube