Speaking Of Code

So as it turns out there are a couple guys that work at my company that are going to school for computer programming. I was helping them with homework a week ago and I suggested we start a weekly code discussion in one of the conference rooms. I even invited my new assistant.

Tonight was the first meeting and it was great. I talked with them about language choices, writing readable code and just general programming practices.

For a long time now I've been pretty much a solo programmer -- I only got an assistant in the last few months. But lately I've really been trying to reach outside that bubble and connect with more developers. I've even tried enlisting other people to help me with projects simply because I want to collaborate with more than one developer.

If you aren't already communicating with other developers then you need to, even if it is only on a virtual level (like Twitter or blogs). However, getting a group of developers in front of a whiteboard for a causal chat is probably a hundred times better.

It probably isn't that hard to find a few developers near you -- They don't even need to be very experienced. Just gather a group of people and come up with something for them to do...

For example, here are a few of the ideas we came up with...

  1. Review Code: Each person in the group starts a small, personal project that they work on in their spare time. Each project is reviewed by the group in the next meeting. We can try and help them solve the problems they are having or simply perform an informal code review on their project.
  2. Team Project: Start a medium sized project that the whole team can work on. Introduce the rest of the team to source control and explain how it works. Assign responsibilities to each team member and discuss, as a team, what role should accomplish.
  3. Let Everyone Teach: Have each person teach something new they learned that week. It doesn't even need to be the same language that everyone else is using. Take this as an opportunity to let some of the less experienced members explain what they know.

You can be a great developer without doing something like this but I personally recommend it. The internet makes it easier than ever to contact people that you would have never had the chance to meet -- but why not try to meet some of the local developers while you're at it.

December 16, 2009

Speaking Of Code

Ideas for starting a programming group.