ICWE’20 Successfully Completed

ICWE’20 live from Helsinki, Finland, June 9-12, 2020

June 9-12, 2020 was exciting times for Aalto University, Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, Tampere University, and University of Helsinki. We jointly hosted the 20th International Conference on Web Engineering (ICWE’20, https://icwe2020.webengineering.org/). The conference is one of the key events for the Web Engineering community, and this year it included one day of workshops, tutorials, and PhD symposium, followed by three days of the main event.

When we for the first time promoted the event in Daejeon, South Korea in June 2019, the world was a very different place. We were worried about things such as venue (downtown, easily accessible, with nice places to visit nearby), getting to Finland (Finnair has a great network for entering Europe from various places) and social program (Helsinki has great restaurants and an option to go to a sauna by the seaside, in downtown). However, during the spring things took a different turn, and we basically had to abandon all the plans virtually overnight, leaving us two options, either to postpone the event or to go completely online.


We decided to go for the latter — what would have been more natural for a community of web engineering researchers and practitioners? This meant that the website became the portal of just about everything related to the conference, including links to live sessions, video presentations, slides, Slack channels, and so on. Despite our worries while organising things, it turned out that indeed it is feasible to organize an international conference completely online. Here’s a couple of ideas that we adopted that worked well.

  • Staying focused online is harder than staying focused when someone is physically present and presenting. To allow the participants to familiarize with the topics, we collected video presentations of the accepted papers and put them online well before the event.
  • To further focus on the essentials when online, we changed the format of the sessions. Usually, ICWE has had 1.5 hour sessions, with three 30 min presentations, consisting of 20-25 min presentation and 5-10 min questions. We shortened the sessions to 60 min, and the presentations to 20 min. Since full videos of presentations were available for viewing beforehand, the format of the presentation was 5 min for recap by the authors(s), and 15 min of interaction, questions, comments, and so on. This worked surprisingly well, and, given that communication is slower online than in in-premise situations, provided a nice opportunity to interact with the presenters.
  • Keynotes were streamed live, to maintain excitement throughout the presentation. The three keynotes, presented by David Bryant (Fellow in Emerging Technologies, Mozilla), Prof. Dr. Olaf Zimmermann (University of Applied Sciences of Eastern Switzerland) and Jaakko Lempinen (Head of AI, YLE) all delivered number of experiences as well as inspired a lively discussion afterwards.
  • Every session in the conference had a Slack channel, where the topics related to that session could be discussed. Many session chairs used the channel to discuss practicalities with the presenters, and the audience used that to raise questions. This definitely would work on a physical conference, too.

While the event did not require any physical traveling, this is not to say that it was an easy four-day activity. Instead, the event was intense, and it was clearly possible to see the intensity of people, at least when they had their camera on. Having the event completely online also meant taking into account details such as the time zones while composing the program, which added a layer of complexity in the planning of the event.

Goodbye all you ICWE’20 delegates, and thanks to those of you who helped us to organize the event. It was great to have you all in Finland, even if only remotely.

Kari^2, Markku, Niko and Tommi


Discontinuity and Continuous X Within Software Development

Many – if not all – software organizations are currently faced with extraordinary circumstances and highly uncertain business conditions. Hardly any “business-as-usual” exists. Some of the discontinuities may even become “new normal”. In these discontinuous times, it is especially apt to consider, what continuous activities and capabilities relate to modern software creation and production.

Continuous delivery and continuous deployment (CD) are nowadays mainstream practices in modern software engineering. Such practices coupled with efficient infrastructures make it possible to develop and maintain software systems frequently based on the current feedback and usage conditions. Continuous integration (CI) supports that way of working.

Continuous experimentation facilitates software product creation by reducing uncertainties with systematic experiments (c.f., here). Consequently, the more uncertainties the software product is faced with, the more useful such experimental development approaches with continuous learning may be.

Advancing from and building on the aforementioned developmental capabilities continuous innovation integrates continuous learning, improvement and innovation. Continuity of the innovation activities and related business processes are especially important in volatile and fast-moving environments where stable states may not prevail for longer times and disruptions may blur and even reposition industry boundaries.

We have recently investigated continuous innovation in an industrial case study (see https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-33742-1_13). ICT use may improve organization-wide ideation and the subsequent innovation process activities by making key information transparent and ubiquitously accessible for all stakeholders. That enables every employee to continuously engage and contribute to idea generation, development and validation. Ideally, the knowledge and creative potential of the entire organization is utilized at critical times.


IVVES project on the testing of machine learning systems starting

Last week Business Finland decided to fund our three-year IVVES project (Industrial-grade Verification and Validation of Evolving Systems) https://ivves.weebly.com/. We can now significantly extend our research efforts on testing, continuous development, and maintenance of machine learning systems together with our partners in Finland, The Netherlands, Sweden, and Canada. We are also planning to set up an interest group for Finnish companies interested in the project. The University of Helsinki’s work in the project is jointly headed by Prof Tommi Mikkonen and Prof. Jukka K. Nurminen.

Open Source Software Framework for Data Fault Injection to Test Machine Learning Systems

dpEmu is our Python library for emulating data problems in the use and training of machine learning systems. It provides tools for injecting errors into data, running machine learning models with different error parameters and visualizing the results.
Data-intensive systems are sensitive to the quality of data. Data often has problems due to faulty sensors or network problems, for instance. dpEmu framework can emulate faults in data and use it to study how machine learning (ML) systems work when the data has problems. The Python framework aims for flexibility: users can use predefined or their own dedicated fault models. Likewise, different kinds of data (e.g. text, time series, video) can be used and the system under test can vary from a single ML model to a complicated software system.
The software and a set of Jupyter notebooks illustrating different use cases are available at https://github.com/dpEmu/dpEmu
We just presented the work at ISSRE conference: Jukka K. Nurminen, Tuomas Halvari, Juha Harviainen, Juha Mylläri, Antti Röyskö, Juuso Silvennoinen, and Tommi Mikkonen. “Software Framework for Data Fault Injection to Test Machine Learning Systems”. 4th IEEE International Workshop on Reliability and Security Data Analysis (RSDA 2019) at 30th Annual IEEE International Symposium on Software Reliability Engineering (ISSRE 2019), Berlin, Germany, October 2019.

Doctoral defence on Continuous Experimentation in Software Engineering

Sezin Yaman from ESE research group will have a public examination of her Phd thesis titled: “Initiating the Transition towards Continuous Experimentation : Empirical Studies with Software Development Teams and Practitioners”. The opponent will be Professor Brian Fitzgerald, University of Limerick. The public event will take place in Room 302, Athena Building, University of Helsinki, on the 25th of October, 2019 at 12 o’clock noon.



Agile Now in Finland

Agile software development is nowadays perceived to be mainstream practice in industrial companies and software development organizations. However, since the publication of the Agile Manifesto in 2001 a lot of progressive evolution and developments have taken place both in industrial practice and academic agile research. One of the significant current drivers is the ongoing digitalization which has affected most industry sectors even radically.

Therefore, we have been interested in investigating the actual current state of agile software development in industrial organizations. Moreover, we want to understand Agile in practice more broadly and deeply considering even enterprise-level agility. We are interested in different industrial sectors beyond ICT since agile methods are possibly increasingly applied also in non-ICT companies when they become more software-intensive.

For those research interests we have been collaborating with Nitor (see here) in conducting an industrial survey in Finland in late 2018. The first results have just been presented at XP 2019 7th International Workshop on Large-Scale Agile Development (LargeScaleAgile).