Organise a Code Dojo!


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Slides from my Europython2010 presentation on our experiences running the London Python Code Dojo.

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Organise a Code Dojo!

  1. 1. Organise a Python Code Dojo! Nicholas H.Tollervey Who am I? I was a musician and teacher before becoming a developer. This talk is introductory in nature Please interrupt and ask questions Tell you about experiences organising the London Python Code Dojo Encourage *you* to organise a dojo...
  2. 2. Organise a what..? ( What is a code-dojo? Dojo = safe place to practice. A place to make mistakes and learn. Terminology borrowed from martial arts / Zen Buddhism.
  3. 3. Invented here Started by French dudes in Paris around December 2004
  4. 4. “Acquiring coding skills should be a continuous process...” Very simple philosophy. I’d add that improving existing skills is also important.
  5. 5. Code Dojo = Deliberate Practice To improve one needs to practice...
  6. 6. These are old ideas...
  7. 7. ὁ δὲ ἀνεξέταστος βίος οὐ βιωτὸς ἀνθρώπῳ Socrates (469-399 BCE) The father of Western philosophy... (2500 years ago)
  8. 8. The unexamined life is not worth living. Socrates (469-399 BCE) i.e. it’s good to be in a continuous process of examination and re-examination
  9. 9. ί ό ἔ ὐ ά,_Johannes_Moreelse.jpg Heraclitus (c.535 - 475 BCE) The original grumpy old man of ancient Greek philosophy...
  10. 10. Much learning does not teach understanding.,_Johannes_Moreelse.jpg Heraclitus (c.535 - 475 BCE) in other words... don’t just read the book. Go *do* something (practice!)
  11. 11. Parisian Dojo Rules start 2mins: organise next dojo 30mins: retrospective on last dojo 10mins: decide the topic for this dojo dojo 40mins: code (either “prepared” or “randori” kata) 10mins: half time break 40mins: code end (not to scale) What happens at a dojo? sets out detailed rules for timing and conduct...
  12. 12. Kata..? Kata - martial arts term meaning “forms” pre-specified / choreographed steps to be practiced again and again. Improves muscle memory.
  13. 13. Also think scales, arpeggios or Etude that musicians practice (again and again). Can be graded in difficulty and focus on particular “aspects” of a practice. Important to practice correctly - reflect with the aim of autonomy. In the code-dojo context we mean small, self-contained programming puzzles. Two mechanisms for doing Kata in the dojo...
  14. 14. Prepared Kata • A presenter shows how to solve the problem using TDD and BabySteps™ • Each step must make sense to everyone present • Only interrupt if you don’t understand what’s going on
  15. 15. Randori Kata pilot co-pilot happy to volunteer • Public pair programming using TDD • Each pair has a time slot • At the end the pilot returns to the audience, the co- pilot becomes the new pilot and a new co-pilot volunteers from the audience Randori means “chaos taking” - something like freestyle. Audience mustn’t interrupt - only co-pilot. Pilot gives a running commentary of their thought process.
  16. 16. What happened in London..? We’ve learned about the theory. What happened in practice..?
  17. 17. !"#$ #"%" Last August pub meet to organise a “randori” style dojo. Decided create a graphical representation of a social network based on data from Twitter.
  18. 18. Geeks actually socialising! Coding fuel Fry-IT provided free pizza and beer + location.
  19. 19. Code Good turnout About 25 people turned up. The rule for a time slot was 10 minutes or a passing unit test for each pair. This worked quite well...
  20. 20. But we didn’t know what we were doing and didn’t stick to the rules!
  21. 21. We only had Emacs or Vim available... vs ...and didn’t have a standard keyboard. The Twitter based kata sucked (too complex) :-( Only 6-7 people got a chance to pilot. Things we should have thought of in advance... :-(
  22. 22. We got it to work!
  23. 23. Other stuff that wasn’t supposed to happen...
  24. 24. Spontaneous applause for working code Audience participation Lots of discussion & debate A generally noisy time The original rules for a code-dojo are formal and limit the possibility of the audience from disturbing the pilot and co-pilot.
  25. 25. (actually, that was good stuff) In the discussion at the end we actually thought interaction was a positive aspect of the evening. We continued doing Randori based dojo until...
  26. 26. I want to do a presentation and get your feedback... Dave’s great idea... Dave had a great idea.
  27. 27. Wouldn’t it be great if we split into small groups to code together..? Ciarán’s great idea... Lightning struck twice Ciaran had a good idea too. He didn’t like the fact that only 6-7 people got a chance to code. Also, some of us didn’t want to code in front of everyone but were happy to code in smaller groups.
  28. 28. Two new dojo formats!
  29. 29. #1 Show and Tell Dojo Rene setting up a demo for PyGame...
  30. 30. More like a seminar than presentation. Interrupt, ask questions, debate, code along, point out problems and generally don’t just sit there...
  31. 31. Participation expected
  32. 32. #2 Team Dojo
  33. 33. ( & ) + = A bit like the classic TV programme “The Great Egg Race” or Scrapheap challenge... teams complete a task with Python.
  34. 34. Suggest / vote on a topic Task ideas written on the white-board during the pizza and beer bit at the start. We then vote and split into teams.
  35. 35. Teams do the same task This takes about 1.5 hours.
  36. 36. Show, tell, review & questions This takes about 1/2 hour and is usually the best part of the evening (for me). Often the task will have been solved in some interesting ways or in ways *you* might not have imagined. Also, presenting and explaining code as well as telling us about design decisions is a good thing to practice.
  37. 37. Long term-projects... After Christmas the London dojo decided to write an “old skool” text Adventure game. Each element being a task for the dojo.
  38. 38. Select a topic from project Groups solve the same topic Demo, review and evaluate Bless a “winner” as start for next time The general modus operandi. “Refactoring” dojo using the Randori method was a disaster (boring as hell).
  39. 39. Adventure Topics Create a game world Represent game state Make a parser Generate puzzles Multi-user or client / server Here’s what we did.
  40. 40. Try my MSUD! (Multi-Single User Dungeon) telnet 2300 So, the end result after several dojos was a working adventure game. Actually Gautier has made it available to play on the Internet... go try it! It’s fun!
  41. 41. Gautier’s server :-) telnet 2300 Where is French Polynesia? This is a picture of the French army blowing it up in 1970. Licorne 2.
  42. 42. In the dojo we... • Teach one another • Explain and present code to one another • Explore each other’s solutions • Work together • Build a community The educational benefits of taking part in a these sorts of Dojo are pretty obvious (I hope). You get to practice all sorts of things... Not the original dojo format. We “forked” the concept - stole the ideas we liked and adapted it to our own group’s dynamics...
  43. 43. Dynamism ... what a dynamic bunch we all are. Actually, I missed off one of the most important outcomes...
  44. 44. It’s FUN! It’s easier to learn when you’re having a good time.
  45. 45. And now a word from our sponsors... Other considerations for making the dojo a success... Community building was an aim in addition to learning
  46. 46. Nerds Nerd bait The pizza and beer = important means of community building. Share “war” stories, demo stuff and generally have a good time.
  47. 47. It’s just like IRC but you’re actually IRL! People relax and look forward to the coding aspect of the dojo. For open source developers community is important.
  48. 48. More nerd bait... We also spoke to O’Reilly who provide us with a book every month. You might have noticed we wear name-badges. Not only because we can never remember each other’s names but also because it makes it easy to do a “prize draw” at the end of the evening.
  49. 49. and finally...
  50. 50. mmMMmm... backwards talk rubbish do I How to be a Jedi Hacker A personal opinion - people like me who want to learn and improve are often looking for teachers - but beware people who offer themselves as gurus, who promote a “system” or offer pithy aphorisms.
  51. 51. WTF? To be an über-Hacker is to “grok” the source completely It’s tempting to be impressed and follow / listen to them I encourage you to be cynical and ask questions of them (just like we do of each other in the dojo) Learn to practice learning (rather than following) by learning in a dojo - yeah I know that’s a pithy aphorism. Bite me! ;-)
  52. 52. ἓν οἶδα ὅτι οὐδὲν οἶδα Socrates (469-399 BCE) I’m with Socrates...
  53. 53. The only real wisdom is knowing you know nothing. Socrates (469-399 BCE) don’t just blindly follow what other people say... make up your own mind.
  54. 54. Just get stuck in... Please...
  55. 55. Organise a dojo! Adapt it to your needs, experiment, expect to get things wrong but please HAVE FUN, learn, practice and improve!
  56. 56. If you’re ever in London come along and say hi! I advertise it on the Python-UK mailing list. I’ll eventually get round to doing a website.
  57. 57. Questions..? Binary beer bottles :-)