Almost eight years ago, at a conference in San Mateo, I presented a new talk that I thought had some potential: “Real Software Engineering”.

Since then, I’ve given updated versions of the talk 18 times. Each time I give it, I assume it will probably be the last; talks get stale after a while and the world moves on, and it’s best to retire old talks and develop new material.

But people still keep asking me to give this talk, and nearly every time I do, a funny thing happens: someone in the audience finds me and tells me about some book, paper, or bit of engineering history that I didn’t know about — one that sheds new light on the subject of the talk, allowing me to deepen the talk just a little more. For example, the last time I gave “Real Software Engineering” as a keynote address, Michael Keeling (author of the wonderful Design It!) introduced me to the delightful works of Gordon Glegg, which touch on numerous aspects of the talk.

Most recently, I spoke at the Melbourne offices of Zendesk as part of a really good lecture series they host for the Melbourne development community. I’m excited about the result: they have a good audiovisual team and put in some serious post-production effort on the videos, and the result is by far the best video of “Real Software Engineering”. The talk itself is improved in numerous ways, and the video is really well done. (And sure enough, during post-talk discussions I got some valuable new pointers to relevant material.)

If you’ve never seen this talk, or are interested in revisiting it, this is the one you should watch. If you show the talk to classes or meetups, please use this version.

I’m grateful to Zendesk (and especially Jeffrey Theobald) for the opportunity to speak to so many great developers in Melbourne, and for the excellent video!

Software Art Thou: Glenn Vanderburg — Real Software Engineering