Largely on a whim, some of my classmates and I signed up to attend Global Day of Coderetreat Cleveland last Saturday at LeanDog. The community outreach director for our bootcamp said it would be a “great educational opportunity,” and the description on the event page was vague enough not to scare us off… so we thought, “why not?”
I found out what I was in for two nights before, when I told a friend what I was doing the following day and he started enthusing about how much I was going to learn because I had signed up for an entire day of pair programming. No wonder the e-mail calling it a “great educational opportunity” had also closed with, “go forth and be brave!”…
It’s not that I hate other people or anything. Far from it, I enjoy people. Really. It’s just that I am a tremendous introvert and the thought of pairing all day with six different pair partners all of whom are complete strangers and also much more experienced programmers made me kind of not really want to go. However, I put on my brave pants that morning and drove downtown to the boat… and, thankfully, three of my classmates put on their brave pants too, so I wasn’t being an awkward newbie turtle all by myself.
Global Day of Coderetreat has a fairly simple premise: pairs are given 45 minutes to code up Conway’s Game of Life. Since this isn’t actually something that is doable in 45 minutes, the goal isn’t to make a working program–rather, it’s to practice coding, pairing, and (in this case, I’m not sure if it is a global thing or not) test-driven development.
TDD was something totally new to my classmates and I. No big deal, just turning the event from “scary” to “downright terrifying”. Nevertheless, my intrepid classmate Stephanie and I trio-d up with an experienced test dev named… oh… darnit, I’ve forgotten his name. I’m terrible with names, I should’ve written it down… anyway, he was absolutely excellent to us and walked us through installing Nunit and got us thinking about how to test the smallest solutions we could think of. I was feeling pretty good when it was time to switch, and with every pairing, I got just the tiniest bit more confident that I actually knew what I was doing, until I wound up passing a Microsoft Surface back and forth with a guy named Jeremiah and actually writing tests without having to take too much direction. Yes!
Everyone at the event was super nice and I learned a ton (so, the e-mail was right). Another classmate, Ray, and I even got to trio up with a Ruby dev to see problem-solving done in a different language. (Maybe I should learn Ruby. Everyone is telling me to….) No one made fun of us for being newbs (at least, not to our faces, haha) and I’m even thinking that I might try to code the Game of Life on my own at some point, just to see if I can do it. The event was definitely worth going to and I’m excited to go to the next Coderetreat in January, or, if I can’t make that, Global Day of Coderetreat next year!
Learn more about Global Day of Coderetreat >> here.