Wow. 90 or so folks showed up yesterday for an amazing event: the Software Engineering 101 Conference. Everyone seemed pretty fired up, energetic, and happy at the end of the day after hearing Leon, Scott, and Jon cover some great topics.
We went through Object Oriented Programming basics, SOLID software design, code metrics, and production debugging. All these were fundamentals for an afternoon of test driven development in a hands-on workshop environment. Leon, Scott, and Jon delivered some great content and really got the attendees engaged before proceeding into the afternoon workshop.
The afternoon workshop was really, REALLY fun to observe. There was a tremendous amount of energy going on in the room as folks paired to solve the problem given them: part of the rules engine for Greed from the Ruby Koans.
One interesting thing really struck me: how quickly all the attendees jumped in together and got productive in pairs. Pair programming freaks a lot of people out for a number of reasons, so it’s sometimes hard (at least in my corners of the .NET world) to sell. We never even gave the attendees a choice. We told them in several pre-conference mails that the afternoon would be pairing. Leon fired off the workshop with “Get ready to pair.” Not once did we open the door for folks to work by themselves, and I think it really paid off.
We’re looking at some possibilities for repeating this conference, perhaps even as an online/live session. More news on that if anything comes of it.
This was an awesome day for me, and I’m really thankful that Leon, Scott, and Jon jumped on board when I pinged them. I couldn’t have gotten three better presenters in the Heartland, and that’s sayin’ something because the Heartland kicks every other region’s assets for speakers.
One last thing: many thanks to EdgeCase and Cardinal Solutions for jumping in with sponsorship funds. We were able to get food, drinks, and snacks for the attendees, all courtesy of Joe and Jeff. Many thanks also to Microsoft and Brian Prince for opening up the venue to us.
 I had someone remark that Scott’s Production Debugging presentation wasn’t on the same content line as the OOP, SOLID, metrics, and TDD sessions. They were right. BUT! I pulled in Scott because A) his session has a tremendous amount of fundamental material in it, B) He’s an awesome presenter, and C) I wanted to see it and I got to pick the conference’s content. :)