Global day of code retreat – Dublin, 2015

Yesterday I went to a very fine event organized by folks from Intercom here in Dublin. It was the global day of code retreat which is organized in many cities around the world. Initially I got interested because the topic of this years code retreat was Conway’s Game of Life which I had my eye on for some time now but the whole event turned out to be a really pleasant experience.

The idea is very simple:

  • try to solve a simple problem – Game of Life in this case
  • do it with a partner for 45 minutes
  • add some kind of restrictions to make it more interesting and consider different approaches
  • you don’t really need to implement the whole thing
  • reflect on the session and wipe your code at the end of each one

We ended up doing 5 or 6 sessions, each with a different person. What’s interesting is that the whole event wasn’t really about the Game of Life but the Test Driven Development approach. Usually one person would write unit tests, and the other one would work on the implementation of Game of Life rules. The restrictions that were placed on us were: use only primitive types, use only objects, do not talk to your partner (apparently everyone’s favourite)… It ended up being funny that my “silent session” partner didn’t really think it through nicely so he wrote his first unit test in such a way that I basically had to make the whole thing work before the first test passed. He realized it and later on added tests with smaller increments. :)

What I really liked about the coding sessions was pair programming. This was my first real exposure to it and I loved it, I think it’s a great approach to coding. I felt like my concentration was boosted and that I was somehow more motivated because I was coding with someone else on the same thing at the same time. It also felt a bit more safe/secure because both people get to complement each others ideas and code. In general is timply felt more productive than programming on your own.

It seems that everyone ended up doing all their stuff in Javascript because it turned out to be the most common language between the participants. I believe we all used tryjasmine which makes it really easy to write both the implementation and unit tests (in Jasmine JS testing framework) in browser with literally zero configuration. That’s quite handy for an event such as this.

We got treated very well – organizers fed us, shoved coffee down our systems and even invited us for pints in a nearby pub afterwards. I got to meet some new, interesting people which was nice. Considering all of this, I was a bit surprised that only 7-8 people actually showed up for the event although it was a stay-late-in-bed kind of Saturday.. But whatever!

I enjoyed it. Would come again. :D

Thanks organizers!