try{harder} level-up

The first try{harder} took place last October and I was lucky enough to be one of the 16 attendee/speakers. The four-day conference was residential – we lived together in four “executive cabins” at Center Parcs in Sherwood Forest. That means everyone had a double bedroom, an en-suite bathroom, and three new developer friends to have breakfast with.

If you ask people who attend conferences why they do it, most of them will tell you it’s for the networking. Some of the presentations will be good, but it’s the conversations, over coffee, over beer, and over dinner, that make the conference worthwhile. Because the best thing you get from a conference is the opportunity to share experiences with other developers, to talk about code, to learn from each other.

try{harder} has that in spades. try{harder} is about sixteen experienced developers teaching and learning. Seminars, code jams, pair programming, and of course conversations. Not shallow chats, but important debates, with depth and breadth, explored over a four day period. Sometimes lubricated with fine scotch whisky (thank you David). The experience is intense, exhausting, exhilirating, and absolutely wonderful.

October’s try{harder} was the first. After it I’d learnt more about TDD than I’d learnt in the previous two years of (sometimes) unit testing my code. I’d learnt enough to kickstart my development of Air native extensions. I’d learnt about build tools, debugging tools, and promises. I’d learnt about the inner workings of the Flash player, and about Robotlegs 2 and SwiftSuspenders 2. I’d learnt about myself. And I’d been inspired enough to dig deeper into Entity frameworks and to write Ash.

And more than all that, I’d gained sixteen new friends. That’s fifteen great developers and Stray‘s lovely wife Helen. These are friends who know and understand what I do for a living. Friends I can turn to for advice and help, as I did recently when wondering which cloud platform would suit a particular need.

This spring will see another try{harder} born. This one is subtitled ‘level-up’ because it’s all about the alumni from the previous try{harder} sharing their experience and their knowledge with eight other, less experienced developers. It’s about helping those mid-to-senior developers realise their potential.

It will feature the same mix of seminars, programming and conversations. The same intense learning experience. But in addition, to help the newcommers they will each be mentored by an alumni.

I am very disappointed that I can’t be a mentor at try{harder} level-up. Unfortunately I have work commitments that can’t be moved. But the mentors who will be there are fantastic.

If you’re looking to improve your developer skills, try{harder} level-up is an opportunity to learn from the best. I highly recommend it.

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