Thilko Richter bio photo

Thilko Richter

I am a software craftsman with a passion for clean code and continuous learning.

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This year I have been on my first SoCraTes! It was also my first unconference and a great experience I would like to share here.


The venue

SoCraTes 2015 happened at the Hotel Park Soltau. It´s a bigger hotel complex with a many conference rooms, a wellness area and much space for doing kung fu exercises (which I used for me). The only disappointing thing for me was the slow and sometimes dysfunctional wireless there. But I have heard that it was better than last year.

The served food was really tasty and a bonus point for the venue. Even as an vegetarian there was enough and on day two they served a barbeque outside.

The beginning

It started at thursday evening with a great come together and a world coffee. We had three session a´ 20 minutes in different rooms. In smaller groups we sat together a shared our ideas what we could talk about in the next two days. It was inspiring and I got a first glimpse that the next days will be surprising.

Day one (Friday)

At 7am I met with other sport craftsman at the entrance for a run. I was NOT the only one! Can´t remember the exact number but maybe 14 people started for a 5/10km run. A great start for the first conference day.

We started at nine with an introduction into the open space concept. The moderator - Pierluigi Pugliese - did an awesome job in explaining the open space concept.

Around 10:30 the schedule with a lot of interesting talks was filled and only with a slight delay (not worth the mention since more than 180 people organized themself!).

Just some of interesting talks I´ve seen this day:

  • Intro to visual notetaking and sketchnotes
  • Description Craftsmanship (bringing craftsmanship principles to the requirements engineering)
  • Functional programming with JavaScript and ramda.js
  • Code retreat Constraints
  • TDD in the C/C++ code (I had the chance to learn more about mocking in C)

We had various evening sessions: Coding Dojo(where I have been), Powerpoint Karaoke to name just a few. Not to forget the interesting conversations (with beer) at the hotel bar!

Day two (Saturday)

I started my day with some kung lessons in the hotel garden. Since the area is quite spacious it was quite and I could focus on the execution.


Today the spirit of the conference got me and I proposed two talks: “Groovify Java” and “How to change a company as a developer without becoming a manager”.

The idea for the latter was to facilitate a lean coffee session and in order to share ideas about that. Since @Fischermaen proposed a conversation about agile transformations we quickly decided to join our sessions. We had great ideas there!

We talked about “acting as an example” and skunk awards as a way to change the organizational culture. You never can change a company alone, find willing people and build a coalition! Interesting thoughts: whenever you hear: “That does not work here!”, ask: “What will work?” and “Ask for forgiveness and not for permission”.


So this day was really the time where I left my comfort zone. And it was great.


Day three (Sunday)

After the last days was a bit more quite compared the former days. I had a relaxing breakfast with good talks about retrospectives. Today some workshops were scheduled. I joined the Extreme Startup session and although I was a bit late and couldn´t compete with the other groups I had quite a lot of fun and I will try the game at one of the next coding dojo sessions or at the Softwerkskammer meetups.

The sessions

Just as an appetizer:

  • Advanced Git
  • TDD does not lead to good design
  • Scaling Agile
  • Tackling the newsletter problem with TDD
  • Concurrency, Robustness & Elixir
  • Full Pair Programming
  • How to manage different flavors of people
  • Name and Gender Representation in Data and User Interfaces
  • Refactoring Legacy Code
  • ES6 Katas
  • How to build an admin interface for REST Webservers
  • Data analytics
  • Code reviews
  • (When) do we really need frameworks
  • Vim! But better! Inside Emacs!
  • Technology is not important
  • Blender intro
  • Code Retreat Constraints
  • Expirience technical dept
  • Your code as a crime scene
  • Implement a game so that the source code can be used as game instructions
  • Be Cat-Matic
  • Code is music

What you can expect

An intense, highly interactive conference with really enthusiastic people. It´s a community who lives the spirit of the software craftsmanship.

As Pierluigi said: The conference is like an empty pot and it is filled with the people that are there. Every experience or thought is valuable and forms a community which helps each other in finding better solutions as a software craftsman.

I am happy the be a part of the community and looking forward to the next SoCraTes. Thanks for the great conference!