Software Craftsmanship Conference 2009

Last week, I attended the Software Craftsmanship Conference 2009, sponsored by Backstage and held at the BBC Media Village in London. It was a day of workshops for programmers, looking specifically at how to develop good working practices, through discipline and good habits.

Jason Gorman kindly gave me an overview of the event.

“This is a conference about building it right.”

Apart from meeting some great programmers, I attended workshops on a variety of subjects, such as:

Mapping Personal Practices with Adewale Oshineye of Google

In this session, programmers talked about processes they found really important in the development of their work, everyone drew a mind map to illustrate their thoughts and took it in turns to spend 90 seconds explaining why.

Ruby and Kata Sparring with Micah Martin of 8th Light
This was all about testing Ruby skills and honing your craft, including some sparring against your peers. It’s inspired by the spirit of martial arts: being disciplined in your working and practicing solving the same problems to improve learning. Micah performed a code kata in front of the group and at the end invited them to score him out of 10 – he came out of it scoring 7s and 8s.

Responsibility-driven Design with Mock Objects with Willem van den Ende & Marc Evers of QWAN
Willem and Marc gave a live pair programming demonstration of how to assign the right responsibilities to the right objects in a clean and cohesive design.

My Defining Moments with Steve Freeman of M3P
A series of five minute lightening talks where programmers described moments of epiphany, inspiration or when they had learned something important, here are some that stuck in my head:

• A company where sysadmins performed ‘random acts of helpfulness’
• Taking pride in who you are and what you do, don’t describe yourself as ‘just a developer’
• Developing and solving algorithm foo
• Admitting you don’t know everything and you can go to others for help
• Doing a bit more for your customer
• Cleaning up buggy code which no one else wanted to touch

It was a really inspiring and very educational day and attendees certainly seemed to get a lot out of it. When organizer Jason Gorman asked everyone at the close of conference if they would like to do it again next year, there was a resounding ‘YES’!

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