How to get the most out of a Code Retreat

Learn_To_Type_by_DEAD_SoLdIeRTomorrow 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.

1. Embrace the freedom of deleting the code

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A Programmer Story

pathLast couple of weeks, a few things happened that made me think. First, I started building a prototype for a Java application in Grails using Eclipse. Second, I wrote some small tools for Mozaic Works in python using Eclipse or vim. Third, I am involved in a startup that uses PHP to develop a great game. Fourth, I had my first TDD in C++ workshop in Stockholm. And, not to forget, my laptop runs Ubuntu.

I compared my last weeks with who I was 7 years ago. For my entire developer live, I used Windows and Visual Studio. I switched from C++ to C# in the 2000s, because it was new and better for the kind of applications I was doing back then. I knew a lot of things about Linux. I played with some scripting languages and was starting to like them. But why bother more?
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Yes, you can deploy every two days

Maria and I spoke at the Agile CE conference about a method of work that we use to help teams deploy every 2-3 days. Here are the slides.

Some impressions immediately after the talk:

  • Corey Haines told me that he uses almost the same method, only in a team of 2
  • “Bucket planning” seemed to catch the attention of a few participants. Basically, the idea is that the capacity is fixed and you should only decide what can fit in the capacity

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How I Deal with “The New Technology” syndrom

Did this situation ever happen to you?

Customer / Product Owner / Manager / Fellow Developer comes to you with an article about “The New Best Thing” that “Solves All Problems that You Never Knew You Had” and praises that technology until you are forced to take it into account for the current or future projects.

I found in such situations that the praised technology is seldom useful. I never trust marketing materials published by the creator of that technology – be it a large company, a small company or an open source project. I never trust the fans of that technology. I don’t trust myself (at least I try not to, since I want to be an skeptical empiricist). The only thing I trust is tangible proof.

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