The vendor area contained several tables from companies trying to recruit or sell their products. To encourage you to visit the vendors, each attendee got a “bingo” card. At each vendor table, you got a sticker put in designated square on the bingo card. You then had to write your name on the card and drop it in a box to be entered into a drawing for a Star Wars Xbox. The drawing would be held at the end of the day.
Each attendee also got one raffle ticket to drop in the box for the prize of your choice. Various component vendors had donated prizes as well as copy of Windows 8 Pro and a one year subscription to Pluralsight. These drawings were also made at the end of day.
My trip started Friday with a drive to Boise from Salt Lake City. Less than five hours later, I was checked into my hotel across the street from BSU. I wasn’t there long. The speaker dinner was scheduled for the evening at Fuddruckers. It was good to see old friends and meet new people. After downing a burger, it was time to stuff the attendee bags. Then, it was back to the hotel. A good sleep the night before a presentation helps make it better.
Saturday morning kicked off with breakfast and an opening session where we were welcomed and last minute announcements made. The schedule had 10 simultaneous 75-minute sessions across five time slots. I checked in, got my attendee bag, then headed for the green room. Just outside the speaker room, I saw a sign directing people to a prayer meeting. Somehow, it seemed appropriate. Inside, the speaker room was stocked with snacks, water, and even antacid.
I opted for “Designing Web Applications” presented by Nathan Barry. He pointed out that a web application is different than a web site. A web site is something you visit once in a while. A web application is something you use day-in and day-out to do your job. You may spend most of you day working in it. It’s more important that a web application be rock solid because if not, it will affect the user all the time. He talked about wire frames and how to use them to mock up your site. He prefers pen and paper over electronic wire frames. He also talked about the importance of consistency and menu placement. I had to leave the session early because I had the next session.
My first session of the day was in the second time slot. I really enjoy the “Software Gardening” session and attendees again told me how much they enjoyed it. Thank you for those words. Software Gardening is the premise that creating software is not like constructing a building. Software is more organic, changing in unexpected ways at unexpected time. Software is more like gardening and needs the same care and treatment. Good soil, water, light, weeding, fertilizing, and other gardening concepts also apply to software development.
After the standard pizza lunch (it’s cheap and easy to feed 500 people this way), I had my second session, “Ooey GUI Web”. This is a new session this year. I cover the basics of JQueryUI, Wijmo, and JQuery DataTables. The session went a bit rough. It was the first time I had given it. But several attendees talked to me afterwards with suggestions for improvement.
After my session, I attended “Building Better Software with TDD” presented by Richard Clements. It’s an important topic but I’d never seen Richard present. I’m glad I was there. He talked not only about the philosophy of TDD, but also the practical. He showed several examples of TDD in action and why you want to develop your applications using TDD.
The final session was “Scrum Challenges” by Richard Hundhausen. The session was presented in a agile way. Attendees wrote questions or problems they have with Scrum on Post-It Notes, which were then put on the front of the podium. Rich would select one and we’d discuss it, then move to another question. It was very effective. One important thing I got out of this session is that there is no such thing as Sprint 0, meaning you don’t plan before you start work. You only plan and design far enough ahead to deal with the first Sprint. Each Sprint after that, you update the design to handle the code you’re writing. Remember, running code is the most important thing to come out of the Sprint.
After the final session, all attendees congregated for the prize drawings. Several companies donated software or hardware. Unfortunately, I didn’t win.
Boise Code Camp was a great day of learning and networking. I hope to make it back again next year.