CodeMash 2012 Recap

Now that CodeMash is over, it’s about time that I deposited information about my experiences at CodeMash 2012 here.

This was my third time at this event that always offers great sessions, workshops, discussions, fun, and bacon.

I am honored to have again been given the chance to speak at CodeMash. I co-presented the Software Craftsmanship precompiler workshops with Steve Smith for the 3rd year running. This year, we broke our day-long workshop into 2 sections: one beginner session and one intermediate session.

Both sessions turned out really well. We had a lot of good verbal feedback from the attendees during the workshops, we had some of our morning people stick around for the afternoon, and I heard from other people that those who attended enjoyed the workshop.  I am really happy with how well it turned out. Thanks everyone who attended the sessions.

Beginning Software Craftsmanship

In the morning we did a beginner’s workshop that introduced the idea of Software Craftsmanship and what values go along with it. We discussed what people can do to get involved with their communities and realign their focus on building good, high quality software. As part of this, we show the group how they can work on improving their skills as Software Craftsmen through Katas and other programming exercises.

We had between 30 and 40 people attend the morning, beginner workshop, including a cobol programmer. We had the attendees mostly working on the Prime Factors Kata through the day. We started them doing the kata with little direction and asked that they do the work solo and without testing. We then had them do the kata again, but this time use testing to keep them on track designing their applications in a simpler way. In the third time doing the kata, we had everyone work in pairs on the kata to see how far they could get as a team using TDD.

Our main goal with the programming exercises in the morning is to have everyone leave with an understanding of pair programming, TDD, how to use programming exercises to hone their development skills, and we wanted them to leave motivated to work with their local communities to all become better at creating quality software. I believe we succeeded in our endeavor. The students talked about how the testing made the work easier and that pair programming was also much easier.

Intermediate Software Craftsmanship

The afternoon focused on some of the same ideas as the morning, but the people in the afternoon know about the values of software craftsmanship. We briefly reminded everyone, as I believe should be done. It’s important to remember and discuss why we do what we do. It gives us a chance to remember and reconsider everything we know and believe.

For this workshop, we had more than 50 people show up for the workshop, which meant that some people did not have table space for their laptops.

In the afternoon we did a few different exercises. One of them focusing on green-field development using good design patterns and practices to help reinforce how to use these effectively. The Greed kata is a great place to try out the strategy pattern as well as a few other good patterns. In the exercise, you continue to get more and more scoring rules added. Eventually, you want to get to following the Open/Closed Principle so that you’re not changing the existing code each time.

The other exercise we did is one which starts out with existing code to refactor. In the refactoring exercise we ask you to add a new feature. It then becomes your choice how to do it. You could just hack in an “if” statement. You could also take some time and refactor. Before you refactor, however, it’s usually a good idea to try to get some tests in place. To make things even more like real code, you need to perform a couple of careful refactorings before you can put your first tests in place. You also get to decide how many tests you want to write and how much to refactor when adding this new feature.

Future Events

If you want to take part in this or a future workshop, I am hoping that CodeMash will invite me back next year to do another great workshop or two. I am also hoping to do a free Software Engineering 101 event again in Cleveland.