What is this sad Aura?
Monday morning everyone shows up by 9:00am, but there is a weird defeated feeling in the air. Everyone is sharing how far they got on their recent Checkers group project and no one is excited to share about their accomplishments – we all failed to meet the minimum requirements and therefore we all felt like failures.
Then, instead of going directly into a new lecture, we all meet in the back to present our projects and what we were able to accomplish. Great… this is going to be more painful than turning away kids on Halloween because you forgot to purchase candy… (maybe that’s a pain point, maybe it’s not…)
The Project Makeup
There were 4 groups total. Each group was comprised of 3-4 Rails developers, 2 Front-end developers, and 3-4 iOS developers. The goal was to create a game of checkers that was available to play on iOS, the web, and all the moves and game logic work and communicate back to the server. But this post is not meant to be technical. This post is about my 3 takeaways from working in this first, cross-platform, group type.
My 3 Takeaways:
- Pair Programming: Pair programming is a great way to tackle and troubleshoot issues – my partner Mark and I would fill in each other’s gaps a lot of times and it made breaking through barriers a lot smoother. Outside these walls, I will want to be part of an organization that supports pair programming between senior and junior developers – even if it’s a once a week practice.
- Lay the Foundation Early: Laying the foundation for our project and setting up the ground rules for communication is imperative early in the project process. We did this by setting up our project Trello and a Slack channel, yet over the course of 5 days we became more virtual with our communication. We would have done better with a daily, face-to face stand-up between the 3 groups (front end, back end, and iOS) to keep everyone in the loop of what pieces we were currently working on and where we were being blocked.
- Butting Heads can be a Good Thing: Butting heads can be a very productive way to build great products, so long as the people butting heads maintain a high level of respect for each other and it doesn’t get too personal and venom isn’t being spat. Our group did not butt heads, however we did witness one group that had 2 people butt heads consistently and they ended up turning in one of the best looking and functioning projects and it was all smiles by presentation day. As someone who is normally anti-conflict, this can be hard for me to grasp, however I do see where being able to communicate exactly what your team needs to another team’s manager is crucial for a great final project.
There you have it, 3 takeaways from my first coding group project… it was surprisingly like many of the other projects I’ve been a part of in the past, except a lot more time in a text editor. In the end, our instructors paid us many compliments, and even though we didn’t get as far along as we originally expected to, we had a lot of great takeaways in the process and felt much better after our early morning group therapy.