Code camps bring software developer communities together to learn from each other

August 01, 2014

Community-run code camps, like the Columbus Code Camp held in October, are great ways for software developers to hone their skills and learn new ones.

While we near the end of summer and the summer camping season, Code Camping season is still on. And in Ohio this means it'll soon be time for the Columbus Code Camp.

The original idea for Code Camp events was to provide a forum where the development community can share ideas. They're always held on weekend days, as they understand developers can't always take time off work to attend training or seminars. The volunteer-run Columbus Code Camp is an open-source community effort, with the community choosing topics, presenting to one another, and sharing code.

2014 holds the fifth Columbus Code Camp on Saturday, October 11, and has grown from 13 sessions and about 90 attendees in 2010 to 28 sessions and more than 200 attendees in 2013. This year they will be adding additional conference rooms to be able to host more than 40 sessions on a wide variety of software topics.

In the past, live demos, workshops, and interactive tutorials for programming languages like Python, and hands-on sessions with Arduinos have been popular at the camp. This year, Co-organizer Jeff Frontz says they hope to have more introductory workshops for languages and frameworks with the larger camp space.

The 2013 camp's topics range from embedded system C and C++ help, Android development, and a slew of Java and JavaScript workshops to cloud development, app development, and gamification. A glance at the presentation titles shows that this isn't going to be a stuffy conference – these developers like to have a bit of fun: "Meteor.js: Killing Dinosaurs with JavaScript," "Git all the things!" and "Hitchhiker's Guide to the NetDuino Galaxy" to name a few. 2014 sessions were being planned at press-time based on speaker interest and submissions.

As central Ohio has a wide mix of software industries – from startups to large universities and research institutions to major insurance, banking, and retail organizations – people ranging from students to CEOs attend every year.

"Folks come from all levels of experience – from high school students to hobbyists to career programmers," Frontz says. "There are folks who program on big iron, folks working on embedded microcontrollers, and folks doing web interfaces. Languages/environments represented run the gamut from PLCs to mobile devices to the cloud."

"A lot of folks take the opportunity to attend sessions featuring topics that differ from their 'day jobs' – supporting the idea that even if you don't use a particular language/tool/technology at work, there is almost certainly some take-away that down the road might help you solve some problem in your usual domain," Frontz says.

While there are repeat speakers who regularly return to share their knowledge with the central Ohio software development community, the camp is always looking for new speakers to keep fresh topics and ideas flowing.

"One of the most challenging things is to convince folks that they really do have knowledge that is worth sharing," Frontz says. "Even if someone isn't an expert on a particular topic, doing a presentation sharing what they know will likely give someone else new information – and the gratification of engaging someone who shares a similar passion is one of the big payoffs."

If you're not a great public speaker, Frontz says they try to make it easy for new presenters with smaller sessions and "roundtables," and you don't even have to stand in front of an audience if you don't want to.

If speaking really isn't your thing, they're always looking for volunteers to help out behind the scenes recruiting others to speak, doing setup, helping with registration, wayfinding, A/V troubleshooting, and teardown.

If you're in the Ohio area and would like to participate, visit, or contact [email protected] to volunteer. Registration and attendance is free.

Columbus Code Camp, Saturday, October 11, 2014 Tech Columbus – 1275 Kinnear Rd, Columbus, OH [email protected] @cmhcodecamp


Monique DeVoe (Managing Editor)
Open Source