Our colleague Joseph Yao told us of his observation. Arguably, most of Asia lack the culture of software craftsmanship. Unlike what he had observed in North America and Europe, of which had very frequent meet ups, conferences, and community activities revolving around this, there was very little to none here. With that, he thought of organizing a Coderetreat with people around the Asia Pacific Region. We were definitely interested, and soon became the organizers here in Manila.
The date was June 13, 2015. All in all, there were 14 cities that joined. Most of them, including Manila, having something like this for the first time. As the plan was this being a warm up to eventually join the Global Day of Coderetreat, we named this event the APAC Day of Coderetreat.
Coderetreat started in 2009. The idea was to develop a repeatable, day-long event that was focused on practicing the fundamentals of software development. For one whole day, we have no pressure from customers, no pressure from management, no business constraints, no deadlines. We can code together for the pure joy of it! We can try out all the really good practices we had been itching to try out with zero risk. We can learn from each other, understand how others approach developing software, all without judgment.
We had posters around the room and on the tables. They were the rules to Conway’s Game of Life, the 10 Commandments of Egoless Programming, and XP Simplicity Rules. We discussed each one as we started the event.
We followed the usual Coderetreat format. We did loose 45 minute cycles. We were all solving Conway’s Game of Life. We did 15min retrospectives every cycle. We tried to abide by the XP Simplicity Rules. Everything we are doing was supposed to be done doing Test Driven Design. It was great! Funny thing is, though the rules state people should work in pairs, we saw teams working in threes and fours too.
As expected, it was very awkward for everyone at the start. As each one wanted to get to a solution. And 45mins is not going to cut it. But as we went through the cycles, they slowly adjusted and became more aligned to the goal of the event. It’s not the solution we were after, it’s how we are getting to one.
There were people who were learning (or re-discovering as some participants claimed) automated unit testing. And they were surprised at how fun it was doing them. There were also a lot of first times. First time at deliberately not using a mouse. First time at pair programming. Etc.
With every retrospective, more and more practices are being recognized and appreciated. The group loosened up and were embracing working together, mixing it up every cycle. Sharing stories.
At roughly 5:15pm, we ended the event by doing the Closing Circle. Everyone shared their realizations, experiences, and what they will bring back with them to work. It was a truly amazing experience and we sure hope this is a start of something good.
More photos from the event can be viewed here