9 Jun

Olympia Software Craftsmanship Workshop – Postmortem

Category:UncategorizedTag: , :

On Saturday, some of us folks from the Seattle ALT.NET community held a workshop in Olympia, covering some software craftsmanship principles. Overall, I think the workshop went pretty well, with the usual assortment of things to learn from.

Things That Went Well

  • I was impressed by everyone’s enthusiasm. I was a little worried that we were under-prepared going in, but the enthusiasm and depth of knowledge that the presenters shared was impressive.
  • People really liked the Outside-in Testing (Jeff Olson) and TDD sessions (Robin Clowers). These had the most code shown during their presentations, which, I think, says something.
  • The facilities were just about right. We were a tiny bit over capacity (technically we were under, but it didn’t feel that way to me.)
  • We had the right refreshments and stuff to keep people from getting hungry and distracted. At one point, someone I know asked if we had anything besides pizza, as he has dietary reasons for avoiding it. I felt bad and told him no, making a mental note that we should have some other food available next time, until I realized Anne had prepared Salad and lunch meats. Yay!

To Work on for Next Time

  • We tried to cover way to much ground for one day. I think we all knew this going in, but were just in denial or something. Next time: I think we’re going to cover just one topic.
  • We hardly got to show any code. I had code that I wanted to show for both the refactoring and patterns talks that I didn’t even get to. I got to show a tiny bit of code in the refactoring talk, but I had a whole series of small refactorings I wanted to do but didn’t. I think we went over in a few of the earlier sessions, it felt right then, but then it compressed the sessions for the rest of the day. The one person that just showed code the whole time, Robin, received props for that. Next time: no slides for me.
  • We asked people to bring laptops, then never worked on any code. This was mostly a side effect of the above, I think. Next time: give them the code ahead of time and use the pauses while people catch up with coding tasks to answer off-the-rails questions.
  • Some people weren’t into the whole "be interactive" thing. At the start of the workshop we asked everyone to shout out questions as soon as they had them, but some felt this led to derailment. Next time: I think we’ll save space at the end or at pre-determined spots for questions, although I personally feel this leads to people forgetting their questions.
  • We (the hosts) didn’t communicate enough before the event and I think it showed. Next time: I think we need to get together on a Saturday a few weeks before the event and make sure we’re all on the same page. I think this is one area where I personally did a pretty poor job, kind of assuming everyone was "directionally correct" and just kind of knew what to do. For the most part this was true, but I think this will be something we improve upon.
  • Using git and markdown was great for the geekier amongst us, but proved a burden for some of the presenters and the attendees. Next time: git for us to share the code, zip files (skydrive?) for everything else and for code for the attendees to download.

In summary, I think the loudest message was: more code. I am in total agreement and I usually don’t like to use any slides at all if I can help it, but somehow got the wrong headed idea that I needed to have something to look at while I did the talking, intro-part of my sessions.

I also tried rehearsing more than usual for this and it turned out to be a complete waste of time. The actual session went wayyyy slower than then I rehearsed. I must be doing it wrong. // TODO: Imagine Arun
asking questions while I am rehearsing.

It sounded like the majority of the attendees would like to come back for another session like this, more focused on one topic. The organizers are going to hold a skype retrospective sometime in the next few days and figure out what we want to do next.

I’d like to give mass props to the people that made this happen: Justin Bozonier, Robin Clowers, Bobby Johnson, Jeff Olson, Trevor Rotzien, and Anne Wax. Together we are helping ALT.NET grow from a small fringe group into something that’s doing real work and making things better than when we got here.


UPDATE: We actually held the retrospective last night. We’re planning another event soon, possibly in more locations, something more focused. Keep your eyes peeled.

4 thoughts on “Olympia Software Craftsmanship Workshop – Postmortem

  1. @Eric Ridgeway I may be speaking too soon, but the next event might be in Seattle or both Seattle and Olympia, maybe at the end of summer, or in September or something. Hope to see you there. Keep checking back here for updates.

Comments are closed.