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What I Learned in Global Day of Coderetreat

We’re now the 3rd times hosting and facilitating the Global Day of Coderetreat in Hangzhou, China. Compared with Jim Hurne coordinating the globally events, be frankly, our work is easier. Yes, it’s easier, but I do not think it’s not important. It always request the host and facilitator spends much more effort to prepare and continuiously improve. Personally, beside those Global Day of Coderetreat (GDCR in short), we still spended much time hosting and facilitating such like coding dojo, coding rally etc. which help programmer to practice their software design, coding skill and agile engineering practices. Here I’d like to share what I learned from coderetreat.

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Prepare as earlier as possible

Even coderetreat’s organizing is lightweight compares what’s conference. But prepare as earler as possible makes sense. What’re you have to prepare:

  • Keep the connection with, and keep you can touch the global organizer via email, if you hosted the GDCR in last year, you mail will be record in historial host naming lsit. So that, you can received first hand news from coderetreat community, about the schedule, host and faclitate guideline, experience sharing, some issues discussion. This is great opportunity to learn from expereienced person, also it’s great time to build your reputation.

  • Join regional GDCR community. Regional community can help you prepare your event better, most of members in regional community are expert or activator in they lived city, they are more experienced in community hosting and facilitating, they can give you suggestions, their lesson and learn is indirect knowladge to you. You can copy their way of working, even share the local sponsors.

  • Look for the sponsors. GDCR is day-long event, and programmer deserved free lunch and snack, so we need sponsor supply the money and place. As an activity organizor, you can help the sponsor’s branding. And involve more people from their company to join the community. Another way to find the money is connecting with other communities who has activity budget. For me, that’s always not a problem, since we can align our activity with our belonged company’s business value, boss buying our idea, and sponsor it.

  • Prepare the topic and constraits. As we know, the problem topic is always Game of Life, I’m not going to explain why we choose Game of Life in this post. We haven’t changed the problem topic in our three years GDCR, personally think the problem topic is not a problem since most of participants are different in different year, instead, we have to consider the contraits more carefully, and we think that, the most excited part is the constraints adding.

  • Facility. Prepare some funny video such like “Delete your code, Yes, You” and the movie clip of game of life, some different color post-it for the retrospective of each session, check the network connecting works well with other cities. If there is no official video channel providing, establish some hangout will be fine.

  • Advertise the event. twitter, facebook, meetup, WeChat, Weibo, and G+ such social network will be good place to market the event to audience. eventbrite, google form can be good tool for event enroll. Don’t forget do some pre-survey to know the participants knowladge and skill level clearly.


There is a video sharing for the GDCR facilitating. And thanks for GDCR global organizors, they supply the the guideline for your hosting and facilitating. In the first year we hosted and facilitated the event, we strictly follow the guideline and rules what the session shall be in 45 minutes, and then remove all code in next session. But we found that, there might be some problems for example, since all implementation has been removed, some programmer lack the sense of achievement, and each session’s restrospetive cost a lot of time. So in this year, in the first two sessions, we let the programmers try their best to finish the basic implementation. And from the third session, we strictly require them to remove the source code, and we give a time-box for each person to share the feeling and learn and strictly to follow the rules. We also change some constraints, to practice our engineers OO design, and also give some funny contraints making a happy event.

After each session, we facilitator will give brief introduction about why we add the constraints, and what’s the essential behind the constraints, and how do we adapt good practice in daily work, such sharing will help people learn more from just experiened.

Summary and retrospective

After finish the sessions, we will gather all programmers, and do a quick retrospective of this event, 10 persons in a group, and select an A0 size paper, to draw 3 circle in the same center. give them each person 3 green color post-it, and answer this question: What’s your feeling about this event, write 3? And let them write down and paste on the outside circle, and share the feeling each other in they belonged group. and then, every one has 2 yellow color post-it, and write down the answer for this question: What’s you learned from event, write 2? and paste the answer around the middle circle, and then share each other. At last, every one has 1 red color post-it, and write down the answer for this question: What’s you next action which is related this topic, write 1? And paste the answer around the inner side circle.

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As a host and facilitator, we can clearly get the feedback from their sharing, for example, if the feeling is boring, there might be some facilitating problem, LOL.

Have a nice summary will help us to record what we did, like now, write down a post, and create a picture album, that’s good choice. Have a fun.