Magic Nights - The Definitive Primer

History

Magic Nights is an initiative aimed at developer communities in cities across the world.  It was conceived by Etienne de Bruin (7CTOs), Rob Kaufmann (Notch8) and Michael Cordell in August of 2014 as a shortened version of "Magic Week" which Etienne initiated as CTO of Monk Development. The main purpose of "Magic Week" was to encourage developers to build whatever they felt like building as long as it complimented Monk's product suite.  The first Magic Night was held in the SDRuby community in San Diego on Oct 23, 2014.

Purpose

It is an event, usually on a week night, aimed at instilling the following characteristics:

  1. Fearless Collaboration
  2. Superior Problem Solving
  3. Joy of Accomplishment

As each night progresses, we hope that software developers grow in self and social awareness in order to become exceptional team players and world class software engineers.

The Name

The name has caused some consternation as some communities like calling it a "Magic Night" and others don't.  We really don't care too much about that but would send you some <3 if you stuck to "Magic Night" :)

Hosting

We highly recommend the host have the following:

  1. A large room with a large screen (TV or projector) suitable for 10-20 people
  2. Enough room for people to collaborate without infringing on others
  3. Wine, Beer and other libations
  4. Pizza or other food
  5. Good tunes to code to

Format

This format is tried and tested so we recommend you stick as closely as possible to it.  We also recommend that you host a Magic Night after work on a weeknight so as to make it as accessible as possible to the developer community who generally meets on a weeknight.

Here is the recommended timetable:

6pm, start enjoying food & drinks

6:30pm, announce the challenge and facilitate team creation.  We highly recommend you not try to pair newbies with experienced but rather, let the universe decide who is paired with whom.  We usually create teams by counting, eg. If there are 14 people and you want to create 7 teams, you assign numbers to each person in sequence like so: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,1,2,3,4,5,6,7.  And then all the 1s pair up and so forth.

6:40pm, everybody codes in their teams with a few mentors keeping an eye on progress.

9pm, coding stops and demos start.  The key to demos is to make sure that each team gets to show what they accomplished.  Some teams would have gotten further than others but the main theme is acknowledge each team for the effort.  You'll get some extra <3 if you encourage wild applause after each demo.

If all goes well, your program should be over by 10pm but the vibe should be electric.  The joy of accomplishment needs to be thick in the room and now would be a great time to encourage people to attend the next Magic Night.

Challenges

A good challenge has a blend of imagination, difficulty and demonstrability.  It should not be written for the newbie, nor should it be written for the expert.  It should just be.  A good way to break the challenge into sizable chunks is to introduce levels.  Remember that the goal is for developers to feel some stress, but not give up because the challenge doesn't fit into the evening.

We are building a repository of challenges here: https://github.com/magicnights

Host One!

If you are interested in hosting a Magic Night in your developer community, we are super excited to help you get started.  Feel free to complete this form and we'll reach out to you as soon as we can.

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