Kurt's Blog

November 22, 2011

Three Conferences

Filed under: agile, conferences, kanban, lean, Software Craftsmanship — Tags: , , — Kurt Häusler @ 4:21 pm

Earlier this year I went to three conferences and I never got around to blogging about them as I was pretty busy with a lot of things like finding a new job, finding a new flat, preparing to move, preparing for a new baby, finishing my masters and organizing the code retreat.


The first of the three was SoCraTes 2011 from the 1st to the 3rd of September. The name comes from Software Craftsmanship and Testing, which is an interesting combination. I suspect a few people who would have otherwise been interested in the Software Craftsmanship aspects were turned off by the Testing part. SoCraTes was definitely about the union of those two topics rather than the intersection. It was English speaking too, and great to have some visitors from outside Germany. I even did a lightening talk, where I mentioned that I would be giving all my books away. That’s right, I brought a box full of books and let people help themselves to them.

SoCraTes had an interesting way of scheduling the sessions. Each session was either a big one split into a 30 minute introduction and a hour long in-depth section, while other sessions were just hour long sessions. I tended to move between them a lot. For example on the first day I attended the first 30 minute intro to the Craftsmen Coding Contest, then moved to the in-depth part of the Specification by Example session. Unfortunately I didn’t feel like the second part of specification by example, where they wanted to discuss examples, worked very well without being there for the first 30 minute introduction. I remember going outside to enjoy the great weather and joining another spontaneous, unplanned session happening out there.

After that I saw the first part of Soft Skill Essentials, then went to the Scala Test in-depth session. After lunch I went to the Crafting Object-Oriented Code session. This was one of my favorites. In partners we had to develop a small program according to provided requirements, but we also had to follow a rather extreme set of object oriented, clean code type rules. You might not want to be so strict all the time, but it is a great and fun exercise to help show how these clean code guidelines actually work, by doing them on in an extreme way, on a fairly small simple, easy to understand code base, you can really see what effects these rules lead to.

Later in the afternoon I went to another practical, hands-on session, SOLID for Dynamic and Functional Languages. We split into teams that chose a language associated with a non object-oriented paradigm. I ended up in the Clojure team, and I can’t remember what the other languages were. We were asked to look at code sections that broke a solid principle, and we had to refactor it so it obeyed the solid principle. The main idea was to discuss how aspects of dynamic and functional languages might make the solid principles either unimportant, different, or irrelevant.

The following day was Open Space. I think I attended sessions on “Laws of Software Development”, actually looking at a picture of the board, that is the only one I recognize. I do remember sessions on mentoring, developing SC communities in Germany and the others were mostly just general chats out in the sun.

The discussions on further steps to take regarding software craftsmanship in Germany were interesting. I didn’t think anyone needed to start a SC group up in the Cologne/Bonn area as we already have the Bonn Agile Meetup, and other user groups, that discuss the same topics. I was however inspired to bring the Global Day of Coderetreat to the Cologne/Bonn area though.

The date for the SoCraTes 2012 has already been set and it will take place from August the 2nd to the 4th, with an optional code retreat on the 5th!


The second of the three conferences was the Agile Lean Europe 2011 in Berlin from the 7th to the 9th of September. The whole family came to this one because there was a special spouses and children track with activities and trips organized. Now at this conference all the talks (except keynotes) were 30 minutes long, and they felt for the most part like dragged out lightening talks, or chopped down hour long talks. For me the open spaces were the highlight. I remember some great discussions on things like estimation, and whether we need managers or not. The keynotes were great too. Rachel Davies’ one on the first day was memorable for her comments on enterprise agile, which I seem to agree with. All the keynotes were fantastic. Beyond Budgeting for example is something I am really interested in getting to know more about.

The second day I had to give up a couple of sessions as I was informed I needed to do some last minute improvements to my masters. In the evening a small number of us went on a trip to catch up with the Berlin Lean Startup Group, for one of their meetings and some dinner.

I remember having a lot of thoughts about agile becoming too fluffy, and did a lightening talk about that, and there was some discussion on twitter about my views on coaching that I said I would flesh out in a blog post, but I can’t really remember what it was all about now. The last day was probably the best. I enjoyed all the talks on the Science of Kanban, Relearning Smalltalk, and the Agile Meme. On one of the days we also had a cool open space session “for programmers” with Brian Marick. You could consider it a warning sign if a session at an agile conference was notable for being “for programmers”.

Afterwards my family and I stayed in Berlin for a bit to have a look around.

The next one will be in Barcelona I believe.

Lean & Kanban 2011 Benelux

I enjoyed this one so much in 2010 I decided to go again this year. The whole family came again and we had a look around Antwerp. I won’t go through and comment on every session I attended. The highlights were probably David Anderson’s “When is Kanban not appropriate” talk, Don Reinertsen’s keynote, and the Real Options talk by Chris Matts and Olav Maassen. Would I go again next year? Sure, but there are 3 lean/Kanban conferences all happening around the same time, so maybe next year I could check out the LKCE or the LSSC ones instead.

Not many images on this post, so here is one of my daughter and I in Antwerp.:



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