With less than a week to go until the Belgian Play! Framework User Group holds its first coding dojo, all 20 places have now been taken.  I was half-way through a blog post to promote it when person #20 signed up, so instead I’m going to flip this over and quickly look at how having an active event can really drive up interest in your user group.

The far more organised co-founder of the usre group, Ben Verbeken, has written about the upcoming dojo here – http://ostia.be/blog/2012/09/18/playbe-first-dojo/

Here’s a chart showing sign-up activity for the group since we started it a few months ago.  We’ve had a couple of meet-ups in the meantime, and have all come into contact with like-minded others.  So far, so good – but notice the lull in sign-up activity in the middle of the chart.

In the first few days, about 18 people joined – and I think a couple of those were people who join any meetup in their area.  Since we announced the dojo, the group has pretty much doubled in size.  The lesson I’m taking from this?  Developers want to develop – having a drink and a chat is all well and good, and our past meet-ups have been good evenings, but it’s not quite the same as sitting down together and creating something new in a couple of hours.

I think that, in future, coding will be a fixture of the meet-ups.  There’s no better way to discuss development than to actually bang some code out there and then.  Using Play, you already have a head start on creating an app in a few minutes which can then be evolved by the others around you.  So, the dojo will (hopefully) be a great night with a structured plan but there’s no reason why every meet-up shouldn’t be the equivalent of several concurrent dojos.

If you would like to join the Belgian Play! Framework User Group, head over to http://play-be.org – it’s free, and there’s a lot of fun ahead of us.

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