April 30, 2012

...Learn TDD with Codemanship

SC2012 Will Be My Last. Could SC2013 Be Your First?

This year's Software Craftsmanship conference will be my fourth, and if you know me, then you probably won't be surprised to hear that when I started the conference in 2009, I had a plan.

I told myself I would run 3 more SC conferences (after the first sold out) at Bletchley Park, and that the conference would be raising funds for that august institution.

We're on track to raise about £15,000 this year (touch wood), which would bring the total raised by all you generous codesmiths to roughly £40,000. This money has been spent wisely by the trust, and has contributed significantly to the refurbishment of the museum in B Block, as well as the new Alan Turing exhibition.

This year's conference will be the last that I organise personally. So what's next in the plan?

Well, that depends on you. If the conference is going to continue - and presumably evolve - then I'd like it to go to a good home. I would hope that any group who organised SC2013 and beyond feels as passionately about software as I do, and as all the great session leaders and everyone who's participated in and supported SC20xx do, too.

I won't lie to you; this is not a commercial conference. Unlike events that can attract CTOs, IT managers, project and programme managers and other people with budgets to spend, SC20xx is never going to attract vast amounts of sponsorship. So nobody's going to get paid to run this conference, and lavish goody bags and dancing girls are off the menu.

But if the format were changed to attract non-programmers, I feel strongly that it just wouldn't be the Software Craftsmanship conference.

I also feel strongly that Bletchley Park is the right home for it, and that it should be used to raise funds for projects there.

The hard-and-fast requirement I stipulated after the first conference that every session must involve live coding also comes with its drawbacks. Developers can feel self-conscious about programming in front of their peers, although anyone who's run a session from SC2010 onwards will probably tell you that this particular audience is much more enthusiastic and forgiving than most.

But, even though drumming up session leaders can be a pain in the arse, we have consistently managed to attract great sessions from great session leaders, and the roll call over the last 3 years is something I'm extremely proud of. It takes some arm-twisting and an element of horse whispering, but it definitely is worth it in the end. And not just for us, but also for those session leaders who were dipping their toes in the water for the first time. Many are now regulars at other conferences. Some have even started their own events. This is a good place to get seen.

And, again, without the hands-on element, would this be the Software Craftsmanship conference, or just A.N.Other software conference where folk dazzle us with BS about stuff they don't even do themselves? For me, this is the heart of the conference: it cuts through all that BS. Don't tell us, show us! And then let us have a go!

So this is the plan:

I won't be running SC2013. Maybe you will. If you're passionate about code, and think you can take the conference to new places, but without cutting out the heart, then I want to hear from you.

Whoever runs it from hereon in will have the freedom to do what they wish with it, as long as they satisfy three basic, non-negotiable criteria:

1. Hands-on coding in every session stays.

2. Bletchley Park is the venue

3. Bletchley Park gets the ticket sales. Everything else (e.g., sponsorship) is up to you.

Of course, if nobody wants to take over, then SC2012 will be the last Software Craftsmanship conference, which would be a real shame, but that's the plan.

I'll be asking people interested in running the conference to make a small pitch to the community at SC2012 (so, yes, you will need someone from your group to be there on the day to represent you), and I'll be asking the community to decide who they want to see running SC2013.

I will also be instituting (against my usual better judgement) a basic constitution for the conference which we'll all need to abide by, including my 3 non-negotiable requirements, as well as a requirement that we repeat this process again in 4 years' time if the conference is still running. In that sense, the conference will become the property of the people who participate and you will become the custodians of it. Which is as it should be.

Posted 5 years, 10 months ago on April 30, 2012