Saturday, 08:30 on a beautiful sunny morning in Blomberg. The perfect time for software developers to gather and dive into programming for a whole day. Away from the daily project and work routine, the focus for one day was entirely on clean code, good design, TDD and pair programming.
Coderetreats are a great way to practice and improve the way you deal with problems, rather than always focusing on getting the next task done. The idea is that you get a problem that is easy to understand but can’t be done in 45 minutes. Combining this with some ingenious constraints throughout the day encourages developers to improve their basic skills and find new ways to change their perspective.
After some time of planning, it was finally time. The planning committee (thanks Christian & Marisa!) arrived at 7:45am to put the finishing touches on the venue. The doors officially opened at 8:30am and the motivation of the participants was high, even though it was a voluntary event, far from working hours. For morning refreshment there were sandwiches and coffee or tea. The day started with a short introduction of the Coderetreat goals, as well as an explanation of the day’s schedule. The task of the day was to solve Conway’s Game of Life over a series of six sessions.
The day consisted of six blocks, each lasting 45 minutes and allowing 10 to 15 minutes for a break and a brief wrap-up. After the first three sessions, it was time for a lunch break. For refreshment, there was plenty of homemade food prepared and brought by the MORYX team. At the end of each 45-minute block, all participants had to clear all their code. Ouch! Sometimes you just have to let go of your 45 minutes of pride and joy to focus on the goal – learning. After each session, participants had a chance to share their learning experiences and insights.
It was fascinating to watch how the participants gradually got better. As expected, the first session started a bit bumpy, but the aha-effects in the following sessions were all the greater. Towards the end of the day, it was great to see how participants transformed from trying to solve a problem (the mentality of everyday work) to learning, experimenting and trying out different ideas. The energy was unwavering throughout the day, and there were many new ideas and “high fives” along the way.
Coderetreat: Final reflection
It was a long, intense day of programming, food, and emotional roller coasters as everyone worked to sharpen their skills. We hope everyone had the opportunity to challenge themselves, learn something new, meet new people, or just have fun programming over the weekend!