WOW! That's about all I can say about what became the Agile track at Saturday's NY Code Camp. If you missed NYC Code Camp 2, I think missed the start of something new and wonderful. At last month's NYC .Net User Group, Stephen Forte made a comment that they (the group) hasn't had a speaker on Agile techniques, He thought they needed to fix that. Well, from the success of the Agile track at the NYC Code Camp (where Stephen couldn't be, because of other obligations), I'd say that we probably need more than a user group session. I talked to Peter Laudati (the local Microsoft Developer Evangelist, who sponsored the Code Camp), and he thought that maybe a full Agile Code Camp might be something NYC really needs. But before I dive into that, let's recap the Code Camp.
I gave a brand new session, called Syntactic Sugar - The Art of Designing Custom .Net Frameworks That Are Easier to Read and Maintain, which is my attempt to boil down some Agile concepts into their essence, and strip away the buzz words and hype. This session is a work in progress, and I think about about half way to accomplishing my goal. As someone noted, I stretched the concept of syntactic sugar (purposely), and forgot about the new yield keyword (not on purpose). As I've explained to a couple people, I use my local code camps as a place to "jam" on new material (the same way a musician might do at a local club show, when working on new material for an album). I have a core structure of the presentation, with areas that I can stretch out a bit and try new techniques or concepts. I then use the feedback of the crowd to adjust the material. In this case, I think I have a little too much material, and need drop out some of the code examples, and make them snippets within my slidedeck. It would let me cover some more material, and keep things a little focused.
After my session David Laribee did a talk on focusing on the domain, and using NHibernate. David is a relative newbie to the local .Net community, but has made a big splash already, with his Patterns & Practices focused talks. Here is his post on the NYC Code Camp 2.
Chris Donnan was up next, and gave a talk on Test Driven Development. Chris came to us by way of Marc Adler's blog, where Marc helped announced the call for speakers. Chris and Marc come from the Financial Markets community, which is an area that the NYC .Net hasn't seemed to embrace yet, so I was very happy to have Chris there. His talk on TDD really got the got the crowd going, and set the stage for the rest of the day.
John Baird did his talk on using TestDriven.Net and NUnit. That talk was very successful at the NJ Code Camp 3, and seemed to help show how to use the stuff we talked about in the previous 3 sessions using some free tools.
The last 2 sessions were given by 2 women from Oxygen Media, Wendy Friedlander and Oksana Udovitska (no blog :(). Oxygen Media is the company that runs the Oh! network, the all woman's cable channel. But besides being a media outlet for women, Oxygen has been building up a reputation in the Agile community, especially in NYC. So, I was very pleased to hear that they were presenting 3 sessions at the NYC Code Camp (Luke Melia presented on WPF, but more on that later). Oksana and Wendy got the crowd going with a very enthusiastic session on paired programming, and then followed up with a talk on Mock Objects, using Rhino Mocks. I wasn't able to sit in both sessions, but I dropped in when I could, and let me tell you, the buzz from within the room was incredible. I even jumped on IM during the session to talk with another Agile evangelist, Scott Bellware, and he had already heard about the the agile group at Oxygen (and Wendy and Oksana). As Luke put it in his Code Camp wrap up "instant stars", and I totally agree with him. I really need to get Peter Provost and some of the Patterns & Practices team out here to meet up with the Oxygen dev team. Peter and Brad Wilson have been leading the Agile charge within P&P, and I think that they will get along very well with the Oxygen team.
Luke Melia is a Director of Software Development at Oxygen, and he did a presentation on WPF. I missed his talk, but in his wrap up post, he mentioned that the attendance was a bit light, and yes, I've found that anything other than an intro to WPF will probably be too advanced for Code Camps at this time. WPF has not caught on for the average developer, yet. But, we are trying to kick start a User Experience user group in NJ (NJUX). You can get more details on that over on Chip's blog, but the idea is to focus in on UI topics (like WPF and web standards based development), and span both the developer and graphic artist folks (sort of like what we are doing with the NJSQL group, spanning both developers and SQL DBAs).
So, with the great feedback we got on the Agile track, it begs for the question, is NYC ready for an Agile Code Camp? I'm not talking about a Code Camp for Agile using .Net, but all Agile development. I'm sure we could get Microsoft to donate the space, but will the non-Microsoft community attend? It didn't seem to be an issue for Bar Camp 2, so, I would venture guess it wouldn't be an issue. But, I'm wondering if we should market it to the Agile disciples, or, to the uninitiated? FYI, the Northern VA .Net Community has an Agile track for their Mid-Atlantic Code Camp, April 14th, 2007. I think between NYC and Philly we would have plenty of potential speakers, I'm just wondering what the turnout would be like. The potential attendance numbers would/could drive the total number of tracks. What do you think? Please leave comments, or you can contact me thru my site.