• Why you should attend the Global Day of Coderetreat

    The Global Day of Coderetreat is November 14. It’s a day long event where software developers across the world who have passion to improve their skills and learn get together for a whole day and work on code katas using TDD and pair-programming. Code retreats are only run on this day in some locations, if you are lucky there may be a code retreat that runs as often as monthly in your area. You can find locations and other valuable information at coderetreat.org. If you are in Michigan, you’re in luck because there’s an excellent coderetreat that runs every month in Ann Arbor called Code Craftsman Saturdays.

    TDD and pair programming are skills that increasingly gaining traction even in Fortune 500 companies. You are doing yourself and your a career a disservice if you don’t learn these techniques.

    What can you learn at a coderetreat?

    • Test Driven Development (TDD)
      • How you start out with TDD and how the red-green-refactor cycle works
      • How to write small, isolated tests
      • How to discover and fix code smells which your tests quickly will indicate to you
      • When and how to use test doubles, spies and mocks
    • Pair-Programming Techniques
      • How driver – navigator works when pairing
      • Ping pong pairing / TDD
      • Frequent pair rotation and how to quickly communicate with your pair

    After every pairing exercise has completed, a retrospective takes place where the group shares what worked well, what didn’t work well and how to improve. You can often learn from others and get a good valuable perspective that you may have not thought about before.

    Why use code katas?

    The reason why code katas are used is that isolates it to a specific problem that everyone in the group can learn from. The most commonly used kata is Conway’s Game of Life but you can of course use a different kata if it’s too difficult or if you want to a different challenge. Even if you have worked on the same kata before, it doesn’t mean that you must or even should solve it the same way every time. It’s a perfect opportunity to experiment and try solving the problem different ways. You can also work on the same problem using different programming languages. It’s a great opportunity to pair with someone that has more experience than you in a different programming language.

    A kata like Conway’s Game of Life can teach you things that you can apply to your daily job outside of the TDD and pair programming. It can help remind us to make sure we start working on a problem where we focus on the things that we can be certain that is unlikely to change frequently.

    If you haven’t attended a coderetreat before, try it out and see if you like it! You may be surprised how much fun it can be. If you are experienced, you can share valuable experience to others that are new to these concepts and I find it’s very valuable to teach others because that’s when you know if you really know the topics in depth or if there are some details that you need to dig into yourself.


    Categories: coderetreat, pair programming, TDD

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