Scrapheap Challenge

A Workshop in Post-Modern Programming

As run at OOPSLA 2005 by IvanMoore (email = ivan at and NatPryce (email = nat.pryce at


What makes software useful for developers?

Object technology has been touted as being the answer to “reuse”. In practice, it is more helpful to consider how to use other people’s software and make your software useful and easy to use for others.

The goals of the workshop are to explore and learn:

As a result of this workshop, participants and facilitators will have learned useful insights into how to find and use other people’s software and how to make our software easy for other people to find and use.

Workshop Format

The workshop is run as a Scrapheap Challenge for developers, using the Internet as the scrapheap.

Participants will be given fun challenges to achieve and must construct solutions by using software and services that they can find on the Internet.

Challenges will be time-boxed. Each challenge will be small enough that a good solution can be written in less than 90 minutes but complex enough that participants will not be able to write everything from scratch.

Each challenge will be run as follows:

The workshop will conclude with a retrospective to reflect upon what it was about the useful software we found that made it easy to use in our solutions and what we can do to make our own software easy for other developers to use. The conclusions of these retrospectives will be presented in the poster session.

The organisers will present amusing prizes based on arbitrary criteria.

Expected Number of Participants

Between 6-20, ideally 12.

Special Requirements

Programmers will need laptops (their own) and a good internet connection (provided by the venue). Index cards, flip charts and marker pens are required for collecting results for the retrospective phases.

Workshop Preparation

Participants will need to ensure that their laptop can connect to the wireless network. They can install their preferred development tools in advance, if they wish, but they can download whatever they want during the workshop.

Post-Workshop Activities

In addition to the poster presentation, the challenges and successful solutions will be published on a web site.