At the end of September I went to a conference (Ruby DCamp 2012) whose first day featured a "code retreat." While I had heard of "code retreat" from Corey Haines on Twitter, I had not been to one before. I knew only that it involved hacking on Conway's Game of Life with other coders.
Think of a space in which you play with other coders on a problem too big to solve at once but small enough to make some interesting progress. There is no pressure to finish anything, instead to experiment, do things the "right" way or the "fun" way, any way but having to complete an assignment or finish a project on a budget. Not a hackathon or startup weekend (although those are fun too!) but a place to socialize with coders while testing your mettle and polishing your skills.
The code retreat started the day with breakfast and a hey, how are you. Then we paired with someone - preferably one we didn't know - and hacked on the game for 45 minutes. We then had to delete our code and come together as a group to talk about the experience. At this point it was mostly getting into the groove of pair programming.
Then the facilitator said something like, now find a different pair and solve the problem without using conditionals. After 45 minutes we deleted our code and discussed the experience as a group. Then four more times, each with a different twist. The exercises are all defined to improve your object oriented and functional design skills, introduce you to pair programming, and to test-driven development. It is language agnostic.
In my code retreat experience, I worked with coders both more and less skilled than myself. For me it was about levelling up on RSpec, and to have fun writing a script that didn't output a web page. As I was driving home from that conference weekend, I said to myself, I WANT TO DO THAT IN ITHACA. Hey, isn't there a Global Day of Code Retreat coming up? Maybe I should organize it. And here we are!
We have some generous sponsors who will make sure we don't go hungry or thirsty during the event. Special thanks go to GORGES, Singlebrook Technology, Incandescent Software, and Think Topography.
Travis Vachon will be the facilitator. Many of you know him as one of the driving forces behind the Ithaca Web People meetup, as well as Clojure, Python, and Ruby guru.
You should come having read the Wikipedia page on Conway's Game of Life. Have your preferred development environment set up, including your preferred testing framework, whether it's RSpec, Test::Unit, phpUnit, Jasmine, or qUnit. (Apart from exercising your TDD skills, you probably won't get far enough into your program to know if it's working other than through test assertions...)
So let's get together and have some fun! Space is limited so please sign up today.