November 21, 2009
Auditioning For Software Craftsmanship 2010The time is drawing near when I need to be thinking about Software Craftsmanship 2010.
What we know so far is that it will be some time in the summer of next year, very possibly early July. After a poll on this blog, it's also looking very likely the conference will be held at Bletchley Park.
Being a vain and ruthless dictator, I have decreed that talks and presentations are banned. So there'll be no keynote speakers, no Death By PowerPoint and no airy-fairy philosophical discussions about "what it means to be a craftsman". This is to provide much-needed relief from the many other conferences that seem to be largely dedicated to that kind of handwaving meta-meta-debate.
Software Craftsmanship will be about writing better code. End of. And those of us who wish to provide leadership on this topic will be encouraged to lead by example. Sessions will be practical, hands-on and will involve live coding. Wherever possible, sessions will enable practical, hands-on participation. Be that by demonstrating something and then asking delegates to have a go on their own laptops, or by asking volunteers to take a turn at the keyboard while the rest watch., or whatever.
The maximum sesson length will be 90 minutes, just like last year. But shorter sessions and demonstrations will be very welcome, too.
On-topic sessions will focus on practices and habits, providing any necessary underlying theory or discussion in direct response to what's happening in the code during the demonstration wherever possible. (E.g., an explanation of the Single Responsibility Principle could accompany a refactoring of an example of the Divergent Change code smell).
Demonstrations should be slick and well-rehearsed (for which we will make plenty of time during the selection process) and leave ample time for participants to - er - participate and have a go themselves during the session. For example, a one-hour session could start with a 15-minute demonstration, leaving 45 minutes for delegates to "do their thing" based on what you've shown them.
Selecting the sessions will be done by a process of auditions. If you want to submit a session proposal, you will need to do a desktop video capture of yourself performing the practical elements of your session, along with a short outline of how the overall session will work. This does not need to be slick and rehearsed in the first instance. It just needs to be good enough to clearly illustrate what you have in mind, and slick and rehearsed enough that it doesn't take 3 hours - or nobody will watch it in the first place! I recommend keeping your audition tapes under 1 hour.
There will be three rounds of auditions, starting in January 2010, and then in Feb and final auditions in March. This will give you two opportunities to rehearse and refine your auditions. We might expect an initial audition that takes an hour to be distilled down to maybe 20-30 minutes with practice.
There will not be a formal selection panel. Anyone who goes to the trouble of submitting an audition will be eligible to vote on the other auditions, as well as provide feedback to other auditionees that you can use to help improve things.
We hope that this will mean that, on the day, practical demonstrations will be slick, punchy and go smooothly, leaving more time for noodling and the inevitable interesing discussions that they will inspire.
The first round of auditions will officially open on Jan 1st and close on Jan 30th, so you have about 6-10 weeks to design and rehearse your first audition. Post your screen captures on HD-supporting video sites like Vimeo or YouTube or on your own web space. I post mine as Flash movies on my Libsyn space. As long as people can find it and watch it, it'll be fine.
I've posted an example audition of me doing the FizzBuzz TDD exercise (badly, I'll grant you), which lasts about 50 minutes and features me talking a lot of crap. If I were up for leading a session, which, as conference chair, I'm not, it would probably be fine. With 3 month's rehearsal, I reckon it would be a 20-mnute demo.
On Jan 1st you will be able to link to your audition videos from a special voting web site I'm sorting out. You can start posting your videos now, (I would if I were you. That way, you can start gathering feedback and refining your auditions earlier.)
Although there'll be no selection panel, I am going to be looking for up to a dozen mentors who will work with auditionees to help them refine their submissions. If you're an old hand or a new broom, and fancy coaching people to help them deliver a slick, well-rehearsed, interesting and useful session, then - in the spirit of the conference - you will need to audition for me. Email a link to your audition video to firstname.lastname@example.org. Mentor auditions will close on Dec 31st. As a mentor, you will get a special t-shirt which you can wear down the pub to impress the ladies (or gentlemen, depending on whether you male or female, or gay or straight, or bisexual, or transgender... oh, you know what I mean!)
Coaches will be free to submit sesson proposals once that process starts, too, of course :-)
Posted 2 weeks, 2 days ago on November 21, 2009