1,096 days had passed since the previous SoCraTes in 2019. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was not SoCraTes in Soltau in 2020 and 2021. Therefore this year was especially exciting for me to return Soltau to isolate for a long weekend to meet with fellow Software Crafters at the 10th International Software Craft and Testing Conference to share about our experience working in teams that build software.
Having been a sponsor in previous years, I did have the pleasure this year to extend my budget allocation which allowed a total of eight colleagues from Nordic Semiconductor to attend a SoCraTes, six of them for the first time!
The previous years had shown that since the "introduction" of the lottery system a large portion of the attendees were first-timers and attendees who haven't been part of the community as long as people like me. I have written previously, why I think this is a necessary and fantastic feat of this unconference. SoCraTes has shown year after year to be an inclusive and welcoming space to for sharing and learning, and it is by word of mouth and through the many interactions on Twitter and via Software Craft user groups that keeps the circle of software crafters growing in Europe and beyond.
This year, around 138 of the 197 attendees checked the diversity box when applying for the ticket, and while this number includes people who are traveling to SoCraTes from outside of Germany, it felt even more diverse compared to the previous years.
This can in part be attributed to another big change this year brought: the Foundations Day offers short and intense introduction workshops one day before the open-space. In two tracks on Thursday before the open-space, world-class coaches held one or two hour long sessions which gave around 60 attendees a introduction to topics, every professional software developer should have heard about, like TDD, Refactoring, Hexagonal Architecture, Exploratory testing, and much, much more.
It is yet another step towards making the biggest gathering of Software Crafters even more welcoming for newcomers. And for my colleagues who were both junior software engineers and first time attendees of an open-space this helped them greatly in the following days because it provided an introduction to the techniques, terminology and lingo that often is used during the open-space without considering whether it is understood by all participants.
This created a clearly needed and safe learning space for them so they could make much more out of the following two open-space days and the Sunday workshops.
Of course, Conference Buddy was present again this year, and 5 participants were volunteering as buddies for this conference.
Conferences like SoCraTes are for me a place where I can challenge my assumptions, skills and beliefs exactly because it is such a safe space where everybody pays attention and listens. It's rare in a professional setting that there is the opportunity to have this form of exchange that only happens without organizational power structures. It's the environment I need to keep growing.
My colleagues, too, were absolutely happy with the unconference, and all want to come back. In the closing session we drew a spider chart that sums it up nicely:
You can see all photos I've taken over here.
Nevertheless, for completeness I've collected the tweets below for you in the correct order: