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Drupal code sprint formats

I've been asked to facilitate a code sprint at Drupal Camp Delhi in a couple weeks.  I've never led a code sprint before, but I have participated in several.  I'm thrilled to do it, but then there are a lot of logistical questions that are rasied.  What format it should take? Who and how many should attend?  Will there be beer?  These are serious questions that I don't have clear answers to.  I thought about it and decided to describe the different formats I've witnessed.

General "grab an issue" sprint.

People show up and work on what they are interested in already.  They collaborate and ask each other questions, but generally just keep it informal and working groups form organically.
  • Preparation: Low
  • Easy to get involved: Yes, but tough for complete newbies unless there is prep.
  • Tangible results: Low
  • Group size: Any

Organized "grab an issue" sprint

A facilitator picks a bunch of issues ahead of time, organizes them (perhaps by experience level or skill type) and then doles them out to people who want to work on them.  People can work in pairs, or individually, but the end result is some amount of traction on a particular topic (piece of core, module, documentation, etc).  Angie Byron added to this a variation: "we've done a cool thing before in Montreal where we divided a room up into stations: the translation table, the testing table, the design table, etc. They start with an overview of what there is to work on, then a specific set of issues. Then, in periodic (hour-long, half-day, whatever) time chunks, rotate 'stations' so you get to learn how to contribute to multiple facets of Drupal."
  • Preparation: Medium
  • Easy to get involved: Yes because it is focused but the person shouldn't have to be an expert.
  • Tangible results: Medium
  • Group size: max 20 or so

Dedicated project w/ goals sprint

In this model, usually a group will take a module, pick a few objectives, plan out issues ahead of time and coordinate with a group who can hit the ground running.  Then the group will split up into pairs, work on issues and pass them off to the rest of the group for review and committal.  This format is usually punctuated with architectural discoveries and discussions which is great because many knowledgable people are in the room.
  • Preparation: High
  • Easy to get involved: No, people need to come with expertise.
  • Tangible results: High
  • Group size: small, maybe 8 people max for effective decision making

Do you have other formats which worked well?  Why and in what scenarios?


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