Polcode at Boiling Frogs 2019: Highlights
Close your eyes. Try to imagine a huge hall filled with hundreds of IT professionals from different environments, “speaking” different programming languages, with different experience, where there are no flame wars which language is better, which IDE is “the one” you should use. There are just common goals: to exchange knowledge and experience, to develop skills independent from language, and to strive toward the highest possible quality of work. Such a place exists—it’s annual Boiling Frogs conference in Wrocław, Poland.
About the Conference
For the fourth year in a row, Wrocław Congress Center welcomed participants of the Boiling Frogs conference—meeting focused on the software craftsmanship idea. As organizers explain on their site, “We think that a programming language or framework is only a tool. You can use them in a great many ways: whether you’re coding in Java or, for example, PHP, there’s a universal scope of knowledge and skills that are always relevant, and they separate a good programmer from a decent one.”
And everyone’s invited: developers, DevOPSes, architects, and managers!
By the way…You know you’re on a really good conference when the first question in the FAQ on their site is: Are there REALLY no more tickets left? 🙂 Click To Tweet
At Polcode, we’ve been following the principles of software craftsmanship for years. We’ve been committed to an individual approach to developers since the very beginning of our software house. Having more than 100 developers on board, we know that everyone has different strong points—the ultimate goal is to discover and expand them. It starts during the recruitment process: we not only check a developer’s knowledge of a single tool but also focus on problem-solving abilities, soft skills, and communication.
After a candidate is hired, we do a list of their skills and plan what to expand. Every employee has an annual training budget not limited to any specific technical subject. In the end, we match the skills needed for every new project with strong skills of specific developers.
When Boiling Frogs Talk
The nine hours of this year’s conference were chock-full of very good presentations. Let’s briefly go over some of them.
The conference was opened by its co-founder, Tomasz Kaczmarzyk. In his keynote, he presented the current state of the IT industry as layers of lasagna (one of my favorite Italian dishes, btw). He showed that tools in use right now are becoming more and more abstracted, enforcing their own approach to coding.
On the one hand, it’s good because it accelerates project progress, making coding and solving problems faster, but on the other, it’s hard to see how those tools actually work. When everything is going well, it doesn’t really matter, but when we hit the wall with some problem that the authors of those tools didn’t anticipate, we’re in a trap.
Only after learning how the gears of the machine work and why they’re there can you use the tool’s full potential.
How Does Architect Know?
In his 40-minute talk, Łukasz Szydło took us into the mind of a software architect. He showed what drives architectural decisions, what should a good architect take into consideration. All of us know the “it depends” mantra that some people answer when asked on the reasoning behind architecture. It was good to finally hear what it really depends on 🙂
Here’s a rundown of the basic factors that determine architectural decisions:
- the production phase
- business factors (goal/vision, problems, client requirements)
- project factors (price/budget, materials, know-how)
- quality factors (security, reliability, extendability, scalability)
Motivate Your Team
Anita Przybył, in a definitely too short 15-minute talk, showed us the difference between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. We’ve learned what drives motivation and what are strong and weak sides of each driver. The talk also easily proved that this conference isn’t reserved for strictly technical talk only. Software craftsmanship is foremost about a holistic approach to honing programming skills and developing better software—team motivation is a huge chunk of that process.
7 Deadlier Sins of Craftsmanship
Tomek Dubikowski took us on an 8-bit-based adventure through 7 Deadlier (Stranger Things pun!) Sins of Craftsmanship. He showed how the well-known Christian teachings could be applied to the software development world. This crazy mix (filled with pop culture references) resulted in a very well-suited “don’t do” list for every developer to remember.
Boiling Frogs Approaches Software Development Holistically
I can’t stress this enough: If you’re interested in increasing the quality of your work, developing soft skills, and of course, most importantly, if you feel you’re one of today’s “craftsmen”—the Boiling Frogs conference is for you. Hope to see you all again next year.