Corey Haines, Nayan Hajratwala, a couple other coders, and I, catching up with each other at CodeMash last week, discovered that this single idea had been percolating independently for awhile in our separate heads. The idea is this: you get some programmers together for one or more days, and with bare-bones structure, a few Kata and exercises, you have people code for most of the time, then talk for just a little time.
Let the Mechanics Evolve
We might intersperse coding and discussion with just a couple of Kata performances. We might have a bit of competition; we might ask teams to exchange codebases and whine about what they dislike in the code they inherit. We might have programmers disagree loudly about this or that practice. But a bunch of group-learning would occur, and it would all center around craft. So no PowerPoint or Keynote decks. No pitches of this technology or framework or that one. Leave your Masters degree or your alpha-geek attitude at the door. We are all peers at CodeRetreat. We just test-drive and refactor the best code we all can, changing up pairs in some sensible fashion, discussing design decisions as we go. Some of it we do as a mob; some of it we do in teams; some of it is performed by one programmer; some is performed by a pair. At the end of the day, we all go off and have beers and keep debating, with or without our laptops.
First One: 1/24/09, Ann Arbor, MI
Well. Now we have a new little social network on-line that describes CodeRetreat, and Nayan and Corey and I have actually pulled the first of these events together: it will be Saturday, January 24th, 2009, at the Ann Arbor, MI Spark center. The CodeRetreat site provides all the details. And we hope to replicate this pattern, publishing our results as we go. There are so many questions this might ask and eventually answer. Might ongoing 1-day regional CodeRetreats become a way for programmers to hone their craft together on a regular basis? Might itinerant, genuine Journeymen like Corey spread this seed to other CodeRetreats in other regions? What will eventually emerge as the best format — most engaging, fun, thought-provoking? What sorts of Kata and exercises lend themselves to this kind of learning best? Might this be a better way for programmers to learn in general, on a steady basis, than we tend to have right now? Who knows. Let’s find out.
Join Us if You Can
Off we go to the first CodeRetreat, between 15 and 30 of us, to code and debate code together. If you live anywhere near Southeast Michigan, and have a Saturday free on 1/24, please consider signing up for the event, and joining us.