Thursday, September 3, 2009

Code Retreat Chicago

Are you in Chicago on Saturday, September 19th?

Want to have a fantastic time practicing your development skills in a stress-free, deadline-nowhere-to-be-seen environment?

Want a free lunch coupled with coding all day with awesome people?

Then, keep reading!

I'm pleased to invite you to come to the very first Chicago Ruby Code Retreat!

What's a code retreat? Here's a short summary:

A code retreat is a day of practice. It was initially conceived by Patrick Welsh and Nayan Hajratwala. The idea was to establish a stress-free environment for people to get together and practice the craft of development. Patrick wrote an overview of the idea back in January, 2009, which covers some of the original goals. Over the past year, after several successful code retreats, the format and benefits are pretty well established.

(note: I'm working on a longer blog post that will contain a better description, as well as links to blog posts by attendees at past retreats)

Note: I'm going to try to limit this to about 40 people for cost and coordination reasons, so please make sure to sign up on the coderetreat site and rsvp. I'll need to have a good head count next week to start making catering arrangements.

8.30am to 5pm
6 45-minute sessions
Coding is done in pairs
Each session, we work on Conway's Game of Life
At end of each session, we delete the code we wrote
At end of each session, we reflect a bit on what we did/practiced
At the end of the day, we go out for dinner and drinks, so we can discuss the day

The goal of the retreat is to provide sessions where people can practice doing things they wouldn't ordinarily do when working on something they need to get finished. Since the Game of Life is not a task that can be reasonable finished in an hour, the tension to finish goes away, and we can focus on different design / development techniques. Ever wanted to try to implement an algorithm with no 'if' statements? Go for it! Want to try the 'TDD as if you meant it' style? Knock yourself out! The world is open, and, since you are pairing, it makes for a fun time trying new things.

Ordinarily, we do the code retreats in Java, as the skills needed to code in it for this task are pretty common. However, this being Chicago, home of a very thriving Ruby community, we are going to try this one in Ruby. I've been to several retreats, and I'll be curious to see the differences with this new language.

Note: This code retreat will be done in Ruby. We won't be spending time getting Ruby set up on machines, nor learning Ruby. There is an assumption that you are at least familiar enough with the basics of Ruby that you can write classes, methods, etc.
If you are coming, please make sure that you have Ruby installed and working, as well as an editor of your choice. Any gems that you normally use (rspec, shoulda, cucumber, rails, etc.) should be already installed. Code Retreat is not intended to be a language learning day, rather a practicing/honing of what you know.