On February 6th I hosted the first Code Retreat to hit West Michigan, and we really couldn't have asked for a nicer day for a Code Retreat. Well, maybe a little bit warmer weather, but hey, it's February in Michigan, what do you expect? So after a quick stop at Panera Bread to get some bagels, scones and muffins, I made my way down to Atomic Object HQ to start the coffee brewing in preparation for the attendees. Shortly after sunrise, Nayan Hajratwala showed up to help with any last minute preparations before everyone else showed up.
Soon about 20 people from all parts of the region had showed up to practice TDD and learn with each other, including one guy who came all the way down from Marquette, MI just to attend. He officially got the "I traveled the furthest" award for the day. We were also joined by Ron Jeffriesand Chet Hendrickson, who had agreed to come and be my professional trouble makers for the day. Shortly after 9:00, once everyone had been sufficiently caffeinated, we decided to get started. One of the attendees had mentioned something about Corey Haines putting together aset of Cucumber features at one of the previous Code Retreats in Chicago, so some of the pairs decided to give that a whirl. After some yak shaving we managed to get through the first iteration of the morning and retrospected on what happened and continued on into the second iteration of the day.
My original plan was to just sort of float around, help facilitate, and observe everyone else pairing, however when I noticed Ron Jeffries didn't have a pair for the second iteration, I took the opportunity to pair with him. Neither of us knew Cucumber very well, so we decided to give that a whirl. If ever you get the chance to pair with either Ron or Chet, don't think twice about it, just do it. Ron had at one point in the day managed to - as one participant described "...[kick his] BDD mindset a bit out of place. . . "
Before we knew it, lunch was upon us. It turns out that Corey Haines was hosting another Code Retreat in Seattle that day, so we fired up Skype and greeted our fellow Code Retreaters on the west coast as they were just getting ready to start for the day. Then we all proceeded to enjoy the taco bar that had been delivered for lunch and continued to retrospect on the days events so far. When we were all finished stuffing our faces with Qdoba, Mike Sweiton and myself gave our participants a quick tour of Atomic Object HQ, showing off our open space, stoplight, CI server, and our embedded projects workbench.
Now that our food had a chance to settle, it was back to pairing for a few more iterations of Conway's Game of Life. After one of the afternoon retrospectives, for a little bit of a distraction, we watched a video of someone implementing Conway's Game of Life in APL. This was spawned by an email thread that circulated right before the Code Retreat about how to implement theGame of Life in a single line of APL, which still blows my mind.
Finally, by the time the end of the day had finally arrived, we had lost a few of our fellow coders and we were ready to call it a day. Those of us who were still left standing at the end of the day took a walk around the corner to The Green Well, one of the many local establishments in the Eastown area, for some much needed unwinding. We continued to retrospect on the day's happenings over a few local microbrews and some delicious items from the menu. All in all I would have to say this was a successful Code Retreat. Everyone had a great time, we all got to pair program with some great folks we wouldn't normally get to pair with, and - most importantly - learning happened. Though many of the Code Retreats in the past have used Java as their language of choice, in my opinion I think using Ruby for this Code Retreat was the right choice. It afforded us much less yak shaving than would have probably been necessary had we been using Java. I'm looking forward to hosting another Code Retreat later this year when the weather is a little warmer, and hopefully attending the upcoming Code Retreat being hosted in Philadelphia by Sebastian Hermida.