I'm a senior journeyman and software development coach working in the London area. I specialise in test-driven development, refactoring and OO design, but despite my impeccable Agile credentials - ;-) - I also teach UML, business mdoeling and enterprise architecture, though there's less call for that sort of nonsense these days.
I'm also the chair and organiser of this conference, so drop me a line of you are interested in running a session, or have any questions.
What Does Software Craftsmanship Mean To Me?
I'm a big music fan, and have played rock guitar for 20 years. I was inspired by guitar players like Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Yngwie Malmsteen, Paul Gilbert, Al Di Meola, John McLaughlin and Vinne Moore. These guys blew me away. They practiced for hours every day and could play exciting, challenging and sometimes just plain cool music that was light years ahead of what I'd heard before in pop and rock. They knew their scales, their modes, their chords and their theory. And they could play a very wide range of different styles, and play clean and very, very fast. My brother had played guitar for a few years, and took classical lessoons, but it wasn't until I heard a copy of Yngwe Malmsteen's Trilogy album that I was inspired to pick up a guitar and try to learn to play myself.
I was aiming really high, though. I soon discovered that, while I cld bash out a decent rendition of "The Boys Are Back In Town" by Thin Lizzy after a few months of practicing, guitar licks from albums like Trilogy, or Dave Lee Roth's "Eat 'Em And Smile", or Vinnie Moore's "Time Oddyssey" would take years to master.
That's in no way a comment on the relative artistic merits of Thin Lizzy vs. Yngwie Malmsteen. I like music that is easy to play if it's interesting, unusual or just beautiful. But if I were hiring a professional guitar player for a session, I'd take Yngwie or Steve Vai or Vinnie Moore any day over Johnny Marr or Paul McCartney. And that's because they have a so much wider range of styles, and I know they'll probably nail it in fewer takes and with far less rehearsal time. And I'll feel empowered and emboldened to ask of them things I'd never dream of asking Paul McCartney to play.
After 20 years of my on-off love affair with the guitar, and probably thousands of hours of gruelling practice and study of all the things a guitarist ought to know and ought to be able to play, I am still nowhere near as good as these players. For every hour I practiced, they practiced for four, and while I'm just a rock guitar journeyman - and that's no small achievement in itself - they are true masters. they continue to inspire me, and maybe one day I'll be a guitar master, too.
As a programmer, I've also been inspired by masters of this craft, who have dedicated decades and tens of thousands of hours to learning and improving in what they do. And after 16 years of practice, I consider myself to be a journeyman programmer, too. And I continue to be inspired by the dizzying technical achievements of masters like Bob Martin, Ward Cunningham, Joe Walnes, Steve Freeman, Ivan Moore, Mike Feathers, John Daniels and many more.
It takes years to master the skills and technqiues they have pioneered. And just as shred guitar has had a lasting transformational impact on all rock guitar players since the big hair days of the eighties, it's hard to find a programmer working in languages like Java,C++, C# or Ruby who hasn't been directly or indirectly influenced by the masters of OO software development.
But you don't need to take lessons from Steve Vai or Yngwie Malmsteen to become a guitar master. We can learn from and inspire each other, and that's what this conference is all about. It's about getting together as apprentices, journeymen and masters, inspiring each other, learning from each other - and most importantly (because every conference needs a Unique Selling Point!) recognising what we do as a craft that tales skill and discipline, and that it takes years to master. And then we can explore how we can learn and how we can practice in a way that actively encourages what some people refer to as codemanship