I participated in my first CodeRetreat in PHX recently. I had way more fun than I expected to and it was a safe environment for me to learn new languages. I really liked getting to pair with skilled developers who travelled from as far away as Mexico to attend.
WHAT? In a nutshell it's an 8 hour day of 45-minutes intervals of pair programming any part of Conway's Game of Life.
WHY?I attended because I wanted to work in languages that were new to me. To that end, I succeeded - I coded in Ruby, PHP and F#.
HOW?The facilitator (Liz Keogh) explains the process / problem then people say what languages, or aspects of language they want to work in. Then they pairup and start coding. Most people there try to do Test-Driven Development. I found several developers who actually chose to attend this CodeRetreat to get started with TDD.
WHICH Highlights?Because I've been coding in TDD in my native language (C#), I was able to help a couple of developers code using TDD in languages that were new to me. They learned TDD coding, we set up a test environment and I learned a bit about a language that was new to me - it was great.
I really wanted to code in a functional language, but no one there knew one. So, I paired and we translated an example in F# (refactoring) as we were teaching each other to read the code. It was amazing how much more we learned by working together on a new language, even though neither one of us had coded with it prior.
WHAT NEXT?Llewellyn and I are considering facilitating a code retreat in the OC. Are you interested in joining us? Let us know. Also, you could you pair with someone you'd enjoy coding with, set the timer for 45 minutes and code up part of 'Game of Life' as a kata.
I really loved CodeRetreat and would definately do this again. I am wondering what you do to learn to code better that you love? Let me know.