14 Jan

CodeMash Trip Report

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In know I just posted my slides, but then I remembered that my jefe specifically asked me to share trip reports, which is a great idea. I wrote this and thought I may as well share it on ElegantCode, too.


I recently attended the CodeMash conference for the second time in as many years. I was lucky enough to be invited back this year by Alexi Govorine to join him in delivering a full-day pre-compiler, as the pre-conference sessions are known at this unique conference.

Perhaps it’s the setting that makes the conference so unique, or maybe it’s the bring-your-family vibe, or the grass roots origin as a community-created event. It’s probably all that plus the fact that the conference is held in the icy Januaries only really found in the mid-west.  And with all that, the technology sessions are as dynamic and current as any conference going. Upon check-in Steve Price told me that I was the first person from Idaho (I haven’t changed my driver’s license to WA state, yet)… (doh!). But, there had been attendees checking in from as far away as Texas and California.

No matter why CodeMash is awesome, it is. You’d dig it. You should go.

If you can get tickets, that is. I also learned that over 600 tickets were sold in 30 seconds in one mighty pulse of conference ticket bying. “It was more exciting than waiting 3 days in line for Hobbit tickets in front of the Knoxville multiplex,” reported conference attendee, Alan Stevens.

Just kidding. He didn’t really say that, but he did show up in a sweet pseudo-pompadour ala your typical post-hippie-now-metrosexual phase. But I digress.

The pre-compiler was great. We hit a lot of highlights of both Scrum and Visual Studio and Team Foundation Server supporting capabilities. Students rotated in and out throughout the day and we had some great conversations. Like anytime the subject of Visual Studio comes up, we discussed licensing. But not as much as in past conferences, so maybe that’s less confusing these days.

Then, there was the one flub.

Yeah, so I sort of thought it might be a good idea to set out a section of the day as a build-your-own backlog kind of thing. Just one segment of 1 hour or so in which the students set the agenda.

Sooooo. That kinda didn’t work. I forgot a crucial part of Peter’s Agile Talk on Agile formula: the Sprints. So I went too long on testing and Alexi had to save me with a nice MTM tour.

I met Jeremy Miller. Finally. After several podcast interviews and about 7 years of virtually knowing him, it was really great to at least shake hands over the lunch buffet Smile.

I got to share our emerging product feature with several NDA’d-up members of the advisory group I have been building up with help from others. We got some great ideas and thinking from those conversations. Thanks, guys!

I realized most people have just abandoned any pretense of waterfall discipline. We’re all just making backlogs, winging it, and improving from there. Good for us! I’ll take getting started with fewer skills than waiting and ruminating on the fact that you should go to training. Improve, you will, Padwan.

People still don’t know Kanban nearly as well as Scrum. Not that Kanban is unknown, just not as commonly understood as iterative-incremental models.

And the product features in Visual Studio really are making headway. People are digging it. Especially the fact that features  were dropping in quarterly updates. Customers are excited about these more frequent value deliveries and are watching us closely to see if we can genuinely take up the Continuous Delivery models we’ve been discussing with customers.


CodeMash is in a giant hotel and conference center disguised as an African village. Also, it’s home to the world’s largest indoor waterpark.


You thought I’d made that last bit up, didn’t you?

Also, there was this sweet collaborative Star Trek game where an entire crew was needed to play the game. It was just like bring on the command deck of a starship. No mouse or keyboards, either. All touch. Freaking sweet.


David Starr

2 thoughts on “CodeMash Trip Report

  1. David–
    I’ve been thinking about trying to do a “NorthWestCode” (name totally picked out of the air) at the Great Wolf Lodge about 90 minutes south of here–interested in helping to set it up?

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