CRAFT Conference

August 29, 2015

A few weeks ago, I went to the CRAFT Conference — a developer conference dedicated to software craftsmanship. I definitely wouldn’t consider myself a software craftsman and writing katas makes me cringe, but the speaker lineup was so good I didn’t want to miss that.

The conference basically took three days: the first one with various workshops taking place, the two other filled with talks. Given that there were four tracks and the overall level of speakers was really high, sometimes it was difficult to decide which one to go to. Fortunately, a lot of them were recorded and posted online afterwards. You can watch them at Craft Conf ustream channel.

Obviously, there was a lot to take in during this event, but there were two main ideas that stuck with me particularly.

Product development

Marty Cagan’s talk on product development was really interesting and reinforced our ideas what a proper design process looks like. He went through the typical process that most companies implement and how every single stage of it decreases the quality of the final product. Then he moved on to what he thinks the process should look like.

I was happy to see how he stresses the importance of prototyping and quick user feedback process that we focus on. There were (of course!) a few pointers we got out of it to improve the way we work, but mainly we got reassured that we’re walking the correct path. With Marty’s immense product experience you can be sure he knows what he’s talking about.

It was also very interesting to see Alf Rehn’s talk on innovation. His main thought was that we should concentrate our efforts on building stuff that matters, instead of just creating toys. It’s interesting how such a simple and obvious statement may seem radical in our industry. Definitely worth a look.

Mob programming

As I mentioned, the first day of the conference was dedicated to workshops. The on that I did was on Mob Programming. It was conducted by Nancy Van Schooenderwoert with some help from remote talking heads — Woody Zuill and Simon Clements-Hawes. Mob Programming is a bit like pair-programming, except you do it in a big mob of people instead of just a pair. You’ve got the Driver who just types the code in, the Navigator who’s in charge of communicating what was finally decided on and a bunch of Backseat Drivers offering suggestions. It works surprisingly well.

It’s a design meeting, pair-programming session and code review all squeezed into one. It seems less intimate and more relaxed than pair-programming, while still retaining all the focus and productivity. Supposedly, it’s also great for onboarding new team members and sharing knowledge with less experienced developers.

Overall

I have to say I liked the conference even more than I expected, which is saying a lot! It’s definitely on my list of events to visit next year.

Blog author: Brains&Beards
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Brains&Beards

Mobile application development studio

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