Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Kata in the Hat

At Agile 2011, Emmanuel Gaillot and Jonathan Perret performed a coding Dojo entitled "The Kata in The Hat." Emmanuel and Jonathan are behind the original coding dojos in Paris. Usually, katas are performed by practicing TDD and applying baby steps. The main kinds of Katas include:
  1. Prepared Kata  where someone comes prepared with a full solution to the Kata and presents it to the group.
  2. Randori Kata where the group rotates pairs so solve a particular problem.
The Kata in The Hat is a twist on these katas. Here, the hosts had a hat in which audience members can write-in rules and requests and drop them in the hat. The presenters start with a main idea, but every five minutes one paper is pulled out of the hat, the instructions are read and the timer is reset. The hosts continue to pair program, but now they incorporate the new requests into their code. And so on... The interesting part is seeing how they can finish each request by doing the simplest thing that can possibly work. They quickly adjust and keep the code moving as they try to solve the main problem no matter what is thrown at them. This type of Kata is definitely not for the beginners, but it’s a great show that is fun, entertaining and educational. If they are ever touring at a conference near you, I highly recommend you attend.

"The big idea we want to get across is that programming can be beautiful, and that through creativity and beauty and poetry programmers have much more power than they think."