The Joomla! Super Sprint in London - 21st to 23rd January 2017 - A retrospective on a fantastic event.

Written by | 01 February 2017 | Published in 2017 February
Joomla’s first Super Sprint was held at CitizenM Bankside in London last weekend from the 21st to 23rd of January 2017 We had attendees from 15 countries (Bratislava, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Malaysia, Netherlands, Spain, St Maarten, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and USA), and a total of 37 attendees with 6 teams officially represented.

The majority of attendees arrived on the Friday and departed on the Tuesday with 30 people attending the sprint for the full 3 days. Others had to return home on the Sunday evening or simply dropped in for a full or half day. We worked from 9am on the Saturday and Monday and from 10am on the Sunday, on all days we worked through until at least 7pm, breaking only for a short 30 minute lunch.

The venue was fantastic and the staff were truly amazing. Being 22 countries strong they instantly got us as a group and their service truly went above and beyond. The layout of the meeting rooms was very conducive to productivity.

Those attendees who had flown in from other continents were staying at a second hotel, the IBIS Styles Southwark, a few minutes walk away which was equally quirky and Wizard of Oz styled, by combining their airline ticket and hotel stay we were able to tap into extra discounts to help keep costs down on these trips.

We had access to the rooms all the way through with no need to break down in between days and over 950 man hours were worked between all of us. The full list of attendees is below :-

Joomla! 4 Backend
George Wilson, Yves Hoppe, Allon Moritz, Joe Palmer, Phil Walton

Joomla! 4 Backend Template
Charlie Lodder, Ciaran Walsh, Dimitris Grammatiko

User Experience (JUX)
Cliff Pfeifer, Dawn Russell, Britta Stender, David Steadson

Marketing (MWG)
Parth Lawate, Sandra Thevenet, Ufuk Avcu, Joe Sonne, Lili Espinosa

Site Optimisation Team (SEO) now Joomla! Optimisation Team (JOT)
Christopher Wagner, Simon Kloostra, Soren Beck Jensen, Rowan Hoskyns Abrahall

Joomla! Extensions Directory (JED)
Jaz Parkyn, Anibal Sanchez, Hugh Douglas Smith, Mark Smeed, Paul Franklin

Certification Program
Luca Marzo, Sam Suresh, Chris Keen, Stefanie Thielmann, Richard van Tilborg, Michael Snoeren, Patrick Jungbluth

We also welcomed several local non-community members including Renata Douglas-Smith and Martin Janes who joined the UX team and Leigh Richards who helped the marketing team on Sunday. Ross Illingworth joined the J4 team on the Saturday and Garett Robson joined them for the whole weekend as a new contributor.

How the Super Sprint came about

George Wilson from PLT initially approached me for help in organising a Joomla! 4 and UX Sprint in London in January. As I was researching venues, it occurred to me that it would be a good idea to look at expanding the sprint to accommodate other teams as well.

I presented Open Source Matters with a costing breakdown and overview of goals alongside the benefits I hoped would come from holding a sprint in this fashion. It was approved by the board at their regular meeting in December.

The Super Sprint authorisation was heavily influenced by the fact that considerable amount of 2016’s spend was still available and part of the authorisation made it essential that everything was booked and paid for before the 31st of December. Mike Demopoulos, Saurabh Shah and I worked through Christmas to make this happen.

I would like to stress that the spend on this sprint came from unspent amounts in the 2016 budget with less than $500 being used from 2017’s budget. This means that the sprint had no effect on the available funds for sprints throughout 2017.  This was very much as use it or lose it opportunity to try something new.

The need for Super Sprints in our Community

Although holding sprints before or after another event has its benefits, there are drawbacks. Running a sprint before an event and your people are either finishing their slide decks or distracted by the excitement of the upcoming event. Running one after an event means energy levels are low and focus can be hard to manage.

Holding a sprint in isolation has its benefits and I see us still holding these for certain tasks and projects, where total focus is required to achieve the goal at hand.

I felt strongly that we should try to run a sprint without the downsides of it being near an event or it being held in isolation, with an attendee level similar to a small event to encourage cross pollination, giving Joomla! something close to a real office environment for the weekend.

Goals achieved

I felt that the cross pollination was amazing, it was great to be able to pop over to marketing or ask the J4 team about something and keeping the group together in the evenings for dinner helped to maximise the results for the project.

As part of the SEO team we worked closely with the JED team who were next door as we made them the main focus of our efforts over the weekend. Having them on hand as we worked through the issues made deployment of our suggested fixes almost instant. It felt great to be able to do this and I know other teams felt the same way.

This is also reflected in the reports that can be found on the Volunteers Portal from the various teams involved.

Value for Money

I strongly believe that his was value for money and I hope that we can do a few of these throughout the year, with each team given the opportunity to attend one alongside some teams which would be represented at each due to their role in supporting other teams such as marketing for example.

By handling every detail of the day and evening, I was able to keep the group almost completely together for over 13 hours a day and with large communal tables, the cross-pollination continued outside the meeting rooms, helping to boost the productivity of the event all round..

More information from the sprint

Teams are already putting up reports on the Volunteers portal with more to come in the next few days. Click here to view them.

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