October 12, 2010

...Learn TDD with Codemanship

Software Craftsmanship 2010 - View From A Train

So here I am on the Stupid'O'Clock from London to Manchester, taking full advantage of the free in-carriage Wi-Fi in First Class (free, I presume, because it doesn't work very well).

Today I'm running a TDD orientation for some fine folk, but in the meantime I have some - well - meantime to take advantage of. Which means I have the time to do a quick write-up of Software Craftsmanship 2010.

It was last Thursday, thanks for asking. At Bletchley Park, if I may be so bold. Yes, that Bletchley Park.

The sun shone and, if the Twitter chatter (or is that "Chitter twatter"?) is anything to go by, a good time was had by all. Including me.

We raised the best part of ten grand for this hugely important heritage site, for which I have to thank both everyone who registered and also our generous sponsors, Eden Development, Riverglide, JetBrains, SkillsMatter and Codemanship (yes, thank you, me), who ensured that the organisation costs were covered, leaving every penny of the registration fees for Bletchley Park.

As you may have heard, SC2010 was a completely hands-on affair. Every session involved live coding, and the majority gave the audience a chance to try stuff for themselves. This, I believe, is unusual for a conference. More unusual was the session submission process. Typically, sessions leaders are asked to submit an abstract and description for their session. What I've found over the years is that, especially for practical sessions involving code, sessions that sound great on paper can turn out to be impractical on the day. So I asked session leaders to submit "auditions". Essentially, these were screencasts illustrating the practical elements of their session. This meant we could see what they had in mind, and get some level of reassurance that it might actually work.

I was extremely pleased with the quality of the submissions we got. I feel this year the bar got raised. Given this is a first outing for this kind of conference format, our session leaders were quite brave to put themselves out there. And I hope those of you who participated this yeat have been inspired to try you own ideas and submit a session for SC2011. (Oh yes, there will be one!)

Although it was a bit experimental, and a bit of a risk, I feel the conference format's been validated. It does work. And validated, too, by the level of interest. We sold out in less than two weeks, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Again, that's pretty unusual for a conference in these difficult times.

Like dinner parties, a conference is only as good as its guests. One fella described the attendees at SC2010 as "self-selecting at wanting to get better". 130 hugely enthusiastic people all committed to their calling and dedicated to continually learning and bettering themselves, as well as sharing with their peers, makes for a great energy and a great atmosphere. It's the people that made SC2009 and SC2010, and it'll be the people that make SC2xxx. That will always be true. It's the people, stupid! That, to me, is very much at the heart of craftsmanship. Without that drive, that determination to improve and thatn willingness to share, craftsmanship doesn't have legs.

Everyone who came to SC2010 wanted to be there. Everyone paid to be there. Including the session leaders, many of whom also very generously gave up a day's pay as well to help Bletchley Park. This is about as pro bono as software development gets, and I'm immensely proud to be associated with these people - people like you.

It's that community spirit that I feel we need to build on. We don't need guilds or alliances or certifications or aprons and secret handshakes. We've alrteady got each other, and that's plenty to be starting with, I think.

And I couldn't finish without mentioning the people of Bletchley Park, who did such a great job of hosting the conference and making us feel at home. Arguably, given the site's historic role in our industry, we are home when we're at Bletchley Park. The Software Craftsmanship conference belongs there. And these people are fantastic. They do an amazing job with very modest resources. Many do it for no pay. That's another thing we have in common - it's a labour of love. So huge respect goes out to Kirsty Bacon, Kelsey Griffin, Simon Greenish and all the amazing people who are keeping the flame alive at Bletchley Park. Not to mention those genius folk at The National Museum of Computing, who daily remind us where we've come from, and just how far we've come in such a short time. TNMOC were very generous with their time during the tours, and I urge you all to visit them and lend your support to the wonderful work they do.

It's early days yet, but I'm thinking SC2011 should be in early summer, as I left it too long between SC2009 and 2010. It will almost certainly be at Bletchley Park, if they'll have us. We'll try and squeeze in a few more people and maybe even a fourth track.

I strongly encourage you to think about leading a session. It's a great experience, and it's good to share. Over the next few months, I'm going to be organising "Kata Kata's" to help bring those people I know are great programmers and have much to offer come out of their shells. It's honestly much easier and much more fun leading a session than you think, and I'm always hearing great ideas from people. I'd love to see those ideas being shared with the wider community.

And if you couldn't make it to SC2010, the good news is that SkillsMatter have kindly agreed to host 6 of the sessions, one a month, at their venue in London. Keep you eyes peeled for details.

Meanwhile, enjoy this little interview with the brilliant Henning Wehn, German comedy ambassador to Great Britain, who not only entertained the troops in the evening, but actually attended the conference itself. That's another unusual thing about SC2011 - it's possibly the only software conference attended by German comedians!

Posted 10 years, 2 months ago on October 12, 2010