The Iowa Code Camp was held on November 7th, 2009 in Des Moines, IA. With a capacity crowd and a lot of great sessions, it ended up being an awesome time with a lot of great presentations and conversations. Like conference of this type, you never have time to hit all of the sessions you may want to; however, the ones I was able to attend were still awesome. Below is an overview on each one.
Getting Started With Behavior Driven Development by Lee Brandt
In his presentation, Lee provided a good introduction to the concepts of BDD. The presentation focused on the origin of BDD, where it fits, and how it's an evolution of TDD from the beginning which helped to truly set the stage. For those that have done TDD for a bit, it provided a great introduction into bridging the gap between the business case and the code by using tests as a spec. Through this and Lee's stressing of an Ubiquitous Language as described in various DDD circles, he showed how BDD can be used in order to provide a technique that helps to show the client what the application will do once done as well as a pseudo-burndown chart of what hasn't been finished yet. I'm definitely looking forward to exploring BDD again in the near future.
Going From 0 to 100 Dollars an Hour with .Net you Didn't Know by Mitchel Sellers
This session was a good session; however, it wasn't as advanced as I was hoping for. The abstract of the session focused around using advanced features of .net in order to make you more productive; however, I was hoping for some additional tidbits beyond that of the abstract. The primary items focused on this presentation were new tips and tricks introduced by .Net 3.5 such as Lambdas, Self Containing Properties, and LINQ. All of these items I already knew and have used them in the past which is why I was hoping for a few tidbits beyond such. That being said though it WAS a good session with a lot of good code samples to convey each concept and technology. I still learned at least one new thing and was reminded about a few other things as well. While it didn't meet my (probably unrealistic) hopes, I cannot deny that Mitchel's presentation definitely educated a number of people who were also in his session that was overfilled.
I've been to a few open spaces discussion and have came to the conclusion that some will be good, some will be bad, and others will be between or outside of those labels. The open spaces session at the Iowa Code Camp was an in between session. The size of the group was smaller and comprised of a diverse set of primary skills which isn't always a bad thing though the topics in discussion didn't flow like I have experienced in other places. We had a good conversation about how to get the information to the people that don't come to conferences or how to encourage them to come. We also talked a little bit about MEF, coding war stories, and some of the side effects of completely rewriting/redesigning an externally facing website. Lastly we talked a little bit about Kanban vs Scrum and the paradox of software estimation. All in all there was some good things that came up during the conversation; however, part of me was hoping that more people would have been involved in the discussion and the topics would have been more discussion/problem solving based to an extent.
Intro to ASP.Net MVC by Chris Sutton
I've dabbled in ASP.Net MVC and have wanted to learn more about it; however,
finding making the time for such is not always easy. Everything that I've learned about such has either been about the MVC pattern itself, or about other frameworks in general like Rails or Django. With only a few MVC Videos watched and about 3hrs worth of coding so far, I decided checking out another intro session wouldn't be a bad idea for me. Chris Sutton did a great job with the presentation. He explained the MVC pattern very well as well as describing how the ASP.Net MVC framework relates to it and ASP.Net in general. He showed a couple of the typical demos for this level of session and afterwards answered all of the questions I had about the next step. All in all it was a very good session and can't wait until I can make time for using such.
Silverlight for WPF Developers by Kirstin Juhl
In my opinion, none of the last block of sessions really looked appealing to me. It wasn't the fact that I didn't think any were going to be good, it was just that I wasn't interested in the topics at hand. I ultimately decided to check out Kirstin's presentation on what WPF Developers would need to know to transition into the Silverlight space. While I have only dabbled in WPF a little bit, I knew a number of differences and knew the power of XAML was greater in WPF than Silverlight. The decision to go here was my current adventures in Silverlight and see what I may be able to learn. All in all, the session was pretty good for the purpose Kirstin was targeting. She did a good job at explaining the differences as well as provide information on how to share components between Silverlight and WPF applications (something I knew was possible but hadn't seen an example of up to this point). Good presentation overall.
Overall, I had a great time at the Iowa Code Camp. For being a free conference, the presentations, facilities, and of course the prizes were all top notch. It was a great conference with some amazingly talented speakers and attendees. All in all I can't wait to head to the next one in the April/May/June timeframe. Hopefully some of the presentations I'm working on will be ready by then since I'd love to present one.