As I write this it’s that time of year where I’m preparing for Global Day of Coderetreat! If you write code–even if you are just starting out–you should consider taking part if on of these events. If you can’t attend a global event near you this year, look for one of the many that happen throughout the year. Chances are, no matter when you are reading this there is a Coderetreat event not too far away. Why should you care? Please read on!
Maybe you aren’t familiar with Coderetreat. I encourage you to go read up on it. For those short on time: Coderetreat is an event for developers, coders, programmers–whatever you choose to call yourself–where you work with other developers to solve a fun problem with the intent of practicing coding techniques, design, and collaboration. It is designed to be fun but to get you out of your comfort zone in order to encourage new ways of solving problems. This is done by introducing various strategies around design and implementation techniques and constraints that encourage you to approach problems differently than you normally might.
Ok. Still with me? Maybe you are thinking it sounds good but you are still skeptical about what you’ll get out of it. Here are my top reasons that you’ll be glad you attended.
A Fresh Context
Coderetreat gets you away from the everyday environment where you normally work. This allows you to focus on deliberate learning. While you may certainly learn and practice ways of improving in your normal work, Coderetreat allows you to improve fundamental skills without other constraints that may impede learning.
Another benefit of practicing outside your daily work: The pressure to deliver is removed. This allows you to focus on how you approach a problem and the affect on the solution. Take the time to think through a problem, but also pay attention to the feedback you get from code, tests, etc. and make adjustments. This is something we typically don’t do well enough when under pressure to deliver. And if we can practice these things more outside of work and develop better skills, then they will be easier to apply when we have schedules and deadlines to meet.
Support / Guidance
Working in a group and in pairs with everyone intent on learning has a great effect. While you can certainly get benefit out of excercises like code katas on your own, working with people of different skill levels, experience, and ways of thinking is powerful and Coderetreat packs a lot of that into a single day. Just hearing what some of the other attendees learned or how they approached things is extremely powerful.
Community / Networking
Simply put, you’ll get some hands-on coding experience with people you don’t normally work with. You will build relationships and connect with other people who are interested in augmenting their skills, craft, and profession.
You may have only heard of things like Pair Programming, Test-driven Development, SOLID Principles, refactoring, etc, or you may use some of them regularly. Coderetreat gives you a chance to work with people that have real-world experience and for those with experience to practice mentoring. Often people with deep experience will participate in languages new to them and practice working with a beginners mindset.
And for those interested in learning a new language, this is a great chance to learn with others (if you can convince someone else to work in your chosen language).
Hopefully something here is encouragement enough to try a Coderetreat. They are typically free to attend with food covered by sponsors. It is a great learning experience, fun, and you can can attend them over and over and learn something new every time.