Last week, I had the opportunity to attend one of Jean-Paul Boodhoo’s infamous .Net Bootcamps. And it, by far, exceeded it’s reputation as one of the most intense (and rewarding) .Net courses available. We started each day at 9:00 AM and the earliest we got out on any night was 11:00. In fact on Thurs. evening, I didn’t make it to sleep until 3:30 the next morning (and I was one of the slackers who went to bed *early*).

JP compacted what felt like 6 months of learning into one week, demystifying some topics that I’ve struggled with in the past (everything from lambdas to the intricacies of fluent interfaces). The week was spent creating a storefront from the ground up using no 3rd party frameworks. This meant creating our own front controller, dependency injection container, ORM, etc.  And that was all in just four days. The first day was spent going over the prep material (yes, we had homework to be done before the class) & and an in depth review of fluent interfaces.

Beyond the intense curriculum, I think we all took away a lot of good life advice as well. Those of you that follow his blog know that JP has a very unique and refreshing outlook on life. Kinda Tony Robbins meets Scott Hanselman. One of my favorite quotes was “Keeping up with the Joneses is a defeating task”. He stressed that we need to set goals for ourselves that are independent of what everyone else is doing. Focus on the technologies\ideas that we’re passionate about and ignore the rest. He also pushed the idea of “trimming the fat” to reduce the distractions that slow us down. Context switching (multi-tasking) affects focus and can keep you from doing your best work. For me, his productivity and motivational tips were just as valuable as the technical knowledge.

It was also a huge privilege to work with some of the other students in the class. Definitely a humbling experience to be working not only with JP, but some of the sharpest developers of our time. We spent most of the last two days pair programming, which was a first for me. And I was surprised at how much better our code base was because of it.

While we were split into small groups, JP would regularly give us partially finished segments of code and we would have a race to the death to see which group could check in a working solution the fastest. Once someone checked their solution in, JP would politely smile and praise the group on their success. Then, in classic JP fashion, he would begin to show us how he would have solved the problem by refactoring the submitted code. By the time he was done, the code was more elegant, easier to read, and usually looked nothing like what was submitted. Humility was a concept we all grew to know very well.

One of the many surprises of the trip was the awesome food. While he pushed us harder than what most state laws will allow, he also treated us like royalty. We ate at a couple of the swankiest restaurants in Philadelphia. Nothin’ but .Net…and lobster ravioli, stuffed mushrooms, and pumpkin cheesecake. Much of the credit has to go to Brian Donahue for making some phenomenal dining selections!

This was by far the best money I’ve ever invested in my career and would STRONGLY recommend it to anyone looking to take their skill set to the next level. In fact, I’m planning on taking the course again next year. He goes through so much that, while you definitely leave with a MUCH better understanding of proper software design than when you arrive, it’s impossible to grasp it all in one week.

I would recommend that anyone interested in the course check out his blog and read some of his past posts (the ones under the “Inspiration” category are personal favorites).

And if you’d like to read some more reviews, check out:

Looking forward to the next one!!

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