Everything is awesome when you're part of a team

For the past week, I have been staying in Sitges, a small town just outside of Barcelona, where I have been hacking away until 2 a.m. and having long discussions about life, business, trends in software development and what the next year might look like.

At first glance, it may appear like some developer mid-life crisis, where I try to convince myself I can still stay up past 10:30 p.m. drinking beer and coding like a l33t h4x0r.

But no, fear not. This was not some misguided attempt at re-kindling my youth. I was, in fact, attending the annual Numtide Retreat.

Annual Gathering

Once a year, those of us who can try to meet up. We find a big house with good internet and places of interest nearby and set up camp. A relaxed ad-hoc program follows where we get to know each other, share what we’ve been working on, talk about the past year and plan the next.

This year, I met some new members of our federation (that’s what we’ve agreed we are now), including what has to be the best example of nominative determinism I’ve ever encountered: Linus Heckemann (a.k.a. LinuxHackerman).

We had a presentation from @davhau about trunk-based development, where I learned about the existence of the DORA research project and questioned my tendency to iterate quickly and write tests later instead of actually writing the tests first.

Flokli took us through how TVL use Gerrit for their code reviews, which I got first-hand experience with as I was hacking away at my NATS-based implementation of the TVIX store all week (blog post to follow).

These are a few examples of what we were doing, and I’m still processing much of what was discussed. We’d often sit and have breakfast, and the next thing you know, we’re talking about the problems with build scheduling in Nix.

This kind of organic exploration is precisely what the retreat is all about. Creating an environment in which these kinds of discussions can happen.

Not all work

Whilst we did spend long days focused on examining the last year, planning the next and hacking away on our own projects, we also enjoyed some downtime.

Some of us cycled in the hills around Sitges (I was not one of them…), and others went sailing. There were tapas by the beach and plenty of beer by the pool.

One evening turned into game night, with a Xonotic tournament ending with the conclusion that next time, we need to introduce a few hundred milliseconds of network delay into @lassulus’s connection, as he is just too damn good!

I even ventured into Barcelona one evening and met up with some old friends as I used to live there not long ago.


The week was a great success, with some outcomes I’m excited to see play out over the next year. It was a shame not everyone could make it, but that’s just par for the course with a distributed group like ours.

I hope to see some of those who couldn’t make it at next year’s retreat and there’s even talk of making it bi-annual instead.

For myself, the retreat rounded off quite a busy month of travelling, starting with NixCon 2023. Whilst I have gotten a lot out of it, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to a quiet month at home 🥱.