Last year, Steve Smith, Rich Henning, and I started a local user group called HudsonSC. As a software craftsmanship group, we focus our efforts on improving one’s abilities as a developer. I’m not sure I can say enough about the need for developers to practice and learn to increase their abilities. Developers are providing a service in the form of software development. We should be proud of what we achieve through our efforts.
Our last meeting of our Software Craftsmanship group focused on the idea that software development is not the creation of things, but a service which when provided results in a new thing every time. We have this great topic and great meeting of the group thanks to a great idea and presentation from Michael Falanga. I will say that he is almost as good as Kevin Kuebler at keeping his talks short. Michael’s slides are available on SlideShare.
My favorite part of the talk was the comment that, “we’re not building cars. We are creating something new each time.” This I think is a very important point to make, and I agree with it. I don’t make the same thing every time. I am using techniques I’ve learned, and those aren’t the same techniques as anyone else. We all do things a little bit differently, and we’re all creating different implementations of the same kinds of things.
Our group is free-form and guided by our members. Sure, we have an agenda, but we hardly stick to it. It’s a rough outline for when things don’t spontaneously change.
At StirTrek I was discussing the group with Michael, and he was saying that he wanted the group to get back to the roots of software craftsmanship and discuss some of the finer points of the trade. The consensus of those around us at the time was that the programming exercises at the end of the events were great, but we should also focus more on the “why” we’re doing things the way we are.
If you’re user group isn’t discussing what you want, take the reins and guide it. It worked very well in this case as this meeting was one of the best our group has had.
Anyone can bring a talk to discuss in our open spaces or by giving a short talk, and I believe that this makes for a great user group. The occasional topic from a speaker is great, but I get a lot more out of discussing a topic than having someone tell me a topic. (This of course tells you that there was some debate on certain aspects of Michael’s talk.)
Take charge of your developer community and make it a better place for everyone involved. If you’re in the area, you should stop by HudsonSC and let us know what you want to discuss. We’re always looking for your great ideas.