Hello from Seattle! I'm here to attend BarCamp Seattle as Shopify's representative on the BarCamp Tour, and as always, I'm having a good time here thanks to the surroundings, people and rich tech scene. I'm going to spend Saturday and Sunday in a corner of geek heaven: the Adobe Conference Center in Seattle's Fremont neighbourhood, surrounded by some of the bright lights from the area, including Amazon, Adobe, Apple, Google and Microsoft, as well as the people from the endless array of local startups and indies.
I'm not the only Shopifolk getting a good geek fix today. Back in Ottawa, the Shopify office, which is two-thirds developers, is awfully quiet because they're not there! They're a few blocks away at the National Arts Centre, where they're getting yet another perk of the job: a CodeRetreat with Corey Haines!
One of the biggest challenges that developers face today is "sharpening the saw". Typically, they've got a lot of work to do and precious little time in which to do it -- and that's when things are running smoothly. Often, it gets much worse, with requirements as slippery as eels in vaseline and deadlines that have come and long since gone, and even the most agile of processes is helping them fail to keep up. As a result, they're so bogged down with getting their projects up and running that they don't get much chance to step back and work on their own skills. I've seen this firsthand, especially in the enterprise world, back when I was a Microsoft developer evangelist -- many of them told me that between rapidly reorganizing business processes, ever-changing tech and just plain old just-not-enough-hours-in-the-day, they were worried that their development skills were atrophying.
Corey Haines' CodeRetreats are all about addressing this problem. Here's a description of the event, straight from their site:
Coderetreat is a day-long, intensive practice event, focusing on the fundamentals of software development and design. By providing developers the opportunity to take part in focused practice, away from the pressures of 'getting things done', the coderetreat format has proven itself to be a highly effective means of skill improvement. Practicing the basic principles of modular and object-oriented design, developers can improve their ability to write code that minimizes the cost of change over time.
It sounds like fun, and were I not doing my thing over here on the Left Coast, I'd be at the CodeRetreat with bells on. It's this sort of opportunity that Shopify regularly provides to the Shopifolks that make me so glad that I joined the company.
Since I'm on the other side of the continent and three time zones away, I have no clue what's happening at the CodeRetreat. I'll have to make do with these photos that a couple of people on our development team have been Tweeting and ask them for more details when I get back (and you can be sure I'll try to turn that into an article for this blog).