Brendan Enrick

Daily Software Development

Making The Software Craftsmanship Calendar Images

In case you missed it, Steve Smith, Michelle Smith, and I are Kickstarting the 2016 Software Craftsmanship Calendar. Make sure to support and share the project so that this awesome calendar can make a comeback! We are dedicated to making this happen, but need your support.

This will be our fifth calendar, so we’ve got a lot of practice. None of us work together anymore, so we didn’t have a company backing the 2015 calendar. As a result, it didn’t happen. We’re going to fix that for all of the people who were contacting us and others related to the calendar trying to get their 2015 editions; the 2016 calendar is for all of you. I know it’s really early to be thinking about buying a new calendar, but there a printing deadlines, so we really do make these calendars in the summer. As a result of our efforts, those of you who were lucky enough to have the 2012 or 2014 editions of the Software Craftsmanship calendar got to have a picture of me up on your wall for an entire month for each of those two years! I have no idea if I’ll make it into the 2016 calendar, but it will see be awesome. Here are the pictures I was in!

Death March

Death-March-Me

Mushroom Management

Mushroom-Management-Me

In the spirit of explaining what goes into making each of these calendar images, I’ve decided to write a post here showing how the Mushroom Management photo got the way it is.

Step 1 – A Principle or Anti-Principle

We always start with some principle that we want to make. There are so many to choose from that we have to trim the list down to any we can get an idea for. That means that we start by brainstorming ideas, and keep the principles that we got any ideas for. It doesn’t matter how good the idea is. If we could come up with a visual we keep it and continue working on the visual. We have this set of criteria for the visuals:

  • The image has to relate to the principle.
  • The image has to be interesting enough to have on a wall for a month.
  • The image should have a humorous aspect to it.

Step 2 – Sketch the Idea to Make Sure It Works

Before we make any props, find a location, and start taking pictures, we have to make sure the idea will actually work. We also want to know what we need to set up. Not all ideas require this, but it helps choose between multiple ideas. It’s also a great point to iterate on before we start shooting. Often the sketches only resemble the image, which is why we spiked the idea with a sketch first.

Mushroom Management Sketches

MM-Concept-1

MM-Concept-2

Golden Hammer 2.0 Sketches

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CalendarConcept18

Frankencode Sketch

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Step 3 – Make Any Required Props

The golden hammers we’ve used over the years were all made by us. We’ve made 4 different hammers over the years. Only two of them made it into calendar images. Two hammers were real hammers that we painted gold. One was a plastic hammer painted gold. The one featured in the 2014 calendar that looked like something Thor might wield was custom made by our designer Weston. He sculpted it, painted it, and even cut and wrapped the leather for the hilt.

The Original Hammer

Golden-Hammer

The Thor Hammer

Golden-Thor-Hammer

And this is how the hammer was made:

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DSC_0514

Step 4 – Start  Photographing

Perhaps the most obvious part of the process, we do have to take some pictures. We make sure to take quite a few pictures (including some making of pictures to go in the back of the calendar). For the Mushroom Management photos, we did a photo shoot, and the photos were not quite right. We knew we needed to make some changes Take a look:

DSC_1125

We really thought that the team needed to look like they’d been sitting in that room for weeks, so we did some thrift store shopping and obtained some visually “interesting” shirts for the team to wear. We also wanted to Mushroom Manager to look a little more formal. We shot again the next day. That got us here:

MM-Untouched 

Step 5 – Touching Up Some Lines

And to make things look amazing, our designer takes these images and makes them complete. OK, so it’s a bit more than just a few lines, but the work he does is fantastic. We’ve gone from an empty office to a development dungeon.

MM

Step 6 – Choosing Behind the Scenes Photos

Our developers in that pictures are in fact developers, not actors. They’re actually pretty uncomfortable in that room. They’re sitting on the floor, closed in a room, with the air conditioning off in the August heat. Being the mushroom manager, I’m supposed to be comfortable, so I’m making sure to stay cool. That’s why I made sure to wear the lightest pair of shorts I owned for this shot.

MM-Brendan-Hallway

That’s how you really class-up an outfit right there. worn athletic shoes and blue shorts go really well with a sport coat, shirt, and tie. Trust me!

Step 7 – Enjoying the Calendar

Yes, this is our favorite part as well. When we get to see our first, fully printed calendar. It’s amazing to see thousands of hours of work come to life in the form of a calendar. Yes, we know the number of hours that go into these. NimblePros was in the software consulting business, so we tracked the hours we billed toward our internal projects like these.

Help us make the 2016 Software Craftsmanship calendar, so you can also enjoy smiling, laughing, and being reminded of all of the ways that you can fail at making software or working as a team!

Flags Over Objects

If you didn’t notice it, our “flag” month was the same month as Independence Day in the United States. We celebrate that day with flags, fireworks, and a lot of cookouts. Notice anything in the picture? Yep. We’re missing the fireworks. Anyway, the topic of Flags Over Objects is an important one.

Flags Over Objects is the Software Craftsmanship Calendar’s anti-pattern topic in July 2014. As a developer, I am sure that you’ve come across code where boolean values (flags) were used far too much. This is often a misuse of state. Plenty of times there is a better, simpler way of handling the state of objects.

Flags_Over_Objects_July_2014

In this image, you might notice (looking carefully) a few obvious (and common) issues with using flags. First, you’ve got a whole list of checkboxes even though some of those can only ever be one at a time. You might also notice that there are a lot of repeats of the same checkbox.

Are you using this anti-pattern anywhere?

2014 Software Craftsmanship Calendar

The 2014 Software Craftsmanship Calendar is now available for preorder!

If you were a fan of any of the previous Software Craftsmanship Calendars or just liked the posts about some of the months, you'll be glad to know that we continued making a new one. We are continuing to alternate between Good Practices and Bad Practices, so this year (being the 4th) is a calendar of anti-patterns.

Each month of this calendar shows something that you shouldn't do, but plays it off as a good thing. You'll also find an interesting, related quote and a definition of the anti-pattern on each month.

Go get your calendar today!

Calendar Coder

If you didn’t get yourself a 2012 Software Craftsmanship Calendar, I hope you’ve at least been following along with my blog posts. My favorite of the months is finally here. In the 2012 Software Craftsmanship Calendar, we included our own variation on an anti-pattern. December is Calendar Coder month.

CalendarCoderSmall

Jesse Williamson had a spectacular tweet that confirmed exactly what we were looking for when we came up with this idea.

Just got trolled by my 2012 Software Craftsmanship calendar. Well played, inanimate object, well played.

Yes, that’s right. After you’ve followed along with the calendar all year, accepting guidance as the calendar turns anti-patterns into jokes that make you rethink some bad practices, the calendar turns on you. I really think that the calendar is useful, but there is no substitute for thinking. Make sure that what the calendar says makes sense. Blindly following everything the calendar says to do is just silly.

Do you recognize from which anti-pattern we derived this one?

It’s called by many names: cargo cult, angry monkeys, etc. If you’ve ever heard the story about needing to cut the ham in half before you bake it, that’s the same story. It is the practice of following along without knowing why you’re doing something. If you read the calendar and don’t know why you should do what it says, you’re a Calendar Coder. If you learn why, agree with the reasoning, and it’s applicable to your situation, then you will want to follow what the calendar says. Don’t just blindly follow along though.

I hope everyone enjoyed the calendar. If you did, the new ones for 2013 are on sale right now.

Buy your 2013 Software Craftsmanship Calendar today!

Copy Paste Programming

One of the most well known anti-patterns is copy paste programming. I am sure that every programmer has done some copying and pasting of code. It’s easy to do and can make writing code a lot faster than just writing new lines for everything.

You might have done something very similar to what you need now. All you have to do is copy the previous code and update it to fit your current needs. What could possibly go wrong?

I don’t think I need to explain why this one is bad. I think it’s easiest to just say that more code means more maintenance. It makes things messier, harder to read, and harder to change.

The month of September 2012 is the Copy Paste Programming month in the NimblePros Software Craftsmanship calendar, so consider this your reminder to stop copying and pasting code. You should know better already.

CopyPasteProgramming

I loved how well this image turned out. I’m sorry though, it’s not OK to copy and paste your code. No, it doesn’t matter that you’re making slight changes each time you copy it. Just don’t.