Ruby DCamp Retrospective

I attended Ruby DCamp this year. It’s a programmers’ event where you camp out (in cabins). There’s a code retreat the first day and then subsequent days are an open-spaces event.

The Code Retreat

The code retreat involved programming Conway’s Game of Life over and over again. Each time you get 45 minutes to work on the problem. You and another (pseudo-randomly selected) person pair program and use TDD. At the end of the 45 minutes, you delete all the work you’ve done. The goal is not necessarily to create a program that runs the algorithm, but rather to hone your craft and focus on how you pair-program and how you effectively use TDD.

I ended up involved in only three of the total (six or so) sessions. Each was a unique experience, and eye-opening. It made me remember why we, as a community, care so much about TDD and other agile practices: they really work.

The Open-Spaces Sessions

Saturday and Sunday were self-organized sessions. The topics ranged from specific (Programming with Coffeescript or using DCI) to broad (Effective pairing practices, Intro to statistics).

Sunday had a number of hacking sessions where we worked on actually building something. These were especially rewarding: I continued with the Game of Life theme and built a version using Backbone.js and with Erlang.

New Concepts

The sessions around DCI, presenters, and fast-testing were probably the most influential to how I’m planning to work in the future. I’ve been moving towards the idea of breaking apart my thick models for awhile (some of the models we work with at Optoro are over a thousand lines long). These concepts give a strong conceptual framework to use while refactoring our models down to something actually maintainable.

Thanks again to @elight and everyone who attended for making DCamp such a great event!

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