Hands on KeyboardYesterday David, Rory and myself skipped out on working yet another day in the office and all headed off to the Dolphin Beach Protea Hotel (which turns out to be a nice venue for hosting small little workshops and conferences) to attend what had been labelled a Software Craftsmanship Workshop headed up by a new non-profit group seeking to instill a sense of craftsmanship and better coding practices in order to restore dignity and respect to the software industry.

Lofty goals indeed.

Their members/speakers are predominantly associated with any combination of Agile Alliance, Scrum Alliance, and the Clean Code Project, but for those who don’t the binding factor is the sharing of the same values, principles and practices required for professionalism and craftsmanship in software development.

Heck, they even have a manifesto so surely they must mean business:

As aspiring Software Craftsmen we are raising the bar of professional software development by practicing it and helping others learn the craft. Through this work we have come to value:

– Not only working software, but also well-crafted software
– Not only responding to change, but also steadily adding value
– Not only individuals and interactions, but also a community of professionals
– Not only customer collaboration, but also productive partnerships

That is, in pursuit of the items on the left we have found the items on the right to be indispensable.

Anyway, workshops form their primary communication mechanism and each is designed as high bandwidth communication sessions where one has the opportunity to interact with experienced professionals in the industry and to offer your experience in return, etc. etc.

Okay, back to yesterday’s day-long workshop then. Firstly, it was a lot smaller than what they were hoping for, with only nine attendees showing up (though they had indicated that there was space for at least forty), understandable because as far as I know, this was their first actual Cape Town seminar, so not too much word of mouth to build up on just yet.

The day was broken into three talks, lunch and a practical session with the topics covering test-driven development and clean code, user experience design, and navigating software with an emphasis on agile development.

Speakers for the day included Marius de Beer and Jan Badenhorst (neither of whom I’ve ever heard) and I must say that I was pleasantly surprised with the level at which these talks were pitched. While many of the more theoretical aspects of what they were discussing I was already fairly familiar with thanks to my tertiary education, it was nice to hear a fresh, more updated opinion on these matters as well as hearing about it from people who are as enthusiastic about the topic and cause as what they seem to be.

Was it worth it? Well yes. Quite frankly, the path which they are evangelising, so to speak, has for long been recognised as essentially the way to go in terms of the software development industry moving forward and to be reminded about some of these aspects and to interact with fellow developers and work on practical problems simply to get your mind thinking in the way it needs to be thinking in order to up your game is a pretty damn useful exercise.

The group is however still young but they are off to a good start and if you are keen on getting in touch with the guys or attending one of their workshops, get hold of them here: http://www.craftsmanship.co.za

(Oh, and lunch was fantastic just by the way.)

Related link: http://www.craftsmanship.co.za