For over 40 years Tim has been committed to understanding and improving the art of software development. He is a programmer, author, trainer and coach. His style is practical and hands-on, steeped in several Agile and non-Agile traditions. Tim rapidly communicates concepts and practices, and is recognized for his compassionate and practical approach to work. Since Tim has been 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 is an insightful author with writing credits in Clean Code, Pragmatic Bookshelf magazine, Clean Agile, 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. Besides maintaining an active feed on Twitter and Linked-In, he is a blogger with articles appearing on the Industrial Logic blog (http://blog.industriallogic.com) and less formally on his personal blog (http://agileotter.blogspot.com). He is an active speaker and author with a long history of speaking on technical and organizational topics at conferences and gatherings frequently giving keynote presentations on leadership, efficiency, communication, safe software practices, and continuous improvement. Tim believes that he and his fellow employees at Industrial Logic can make the world of software development more humane, safe, and 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. He lives in northern Illinois between Chicago and the Wisconsin state line. He enjoys cooking, playing musical instruments, watching 1950s scifi, 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.
ExperienceHe 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.
PublicationsDeveloper On Fire interview with Tim. Agile Practices That Apply to Everything written as a summary of one of Tim's Agile conference talks. Agile For Humans -- Tim is a regular Active blogger on Agile Software Development and safe software practices. Find your Calm - Tim's interview at Agile 2015 An Agile Pace Use Vim Like A Pro; a different kind of VIM tutorial. 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 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