Hints for coderetreat facilitators, participants and hosts.
Coderetreat is a practice format for programmers inspired by the writer’s retreats. I was lucky to be the first code retreat facilitator outside US, with Maria Diaconu. I facilitated and participated to about 50 coderetreats. I also published a book about facilitating and organizing coderetreats, as co-author of Adi Bolboacă.
It’s that time of year again. The time when passionate developers get together all over the world to learn from each other. It’s time for Global Day of Coderetreat!
Yet not everything is perfect. The main complain I hear from people attending Coderetreats, especially after a few of them, is that they get bored with Conway’s Game Of Life. I strongly believe that this issue comes from a misunderstanding of the coderetreat. And I have solutions for you.
The Problem Is Not Important
Coderetreats are about practicing skills. In order to practice, we need a problem and a set of constraints that push us outside the comfort zone, into the learning circle. If you know the problem by heart, great; try constraints you’ve never tried.
Tomorrow is the Global Day of Code Retreat 2013, or as I like to call it, the programmers’ Christmas. Every year, I think of what I can improve in the code retreat to make it even better for the attendees. Last year, I decided to start by asking them what they would like to learn and then picked the sessions accordingly (and I started a blog post that’s in draft since last year…). It worked brilliantly. This year, I plan to explain better how to get the most out of a Code Retreat.
If you’re going for the first time to such an event, you probably will be surprised by a few things. You might feel confused and might not adapt to the event until later in the day. I hope that by reading these few recommendations you will get the most out of your first (and the other) code retreats you attend.
I drew this picture with Corey Haines at the Krakow April 2011 Code Retreat. I started with the overall silhouette of the method, and Corey added the eye and the comment. In the end, I think we got an excellent motivational poster. So, developers, don’t let your methods look like this!
The right bottom corner is about another thing you should remember: at least know the name of your pair before starting to program. It’s funny how many times I’ve seen developers jumping right into the problem and forget this simple thing.
In the end, many thanks to the people who made the Code Retreat Krakow such an amazing experience. Pair facilitating with Corey is always an awesome experience, and I’d love to do it more often. I loved the energy of the participants and I’m really proud of the T-Shirt. Corey, Krakow, see you again soon!