Sometimes people ask me what exactly a “Craftsman Swap” or a “Journeyman Tour” is. I’ll try to shed some light on it in this article.

Software Craftsmanship

The two terms have been coined in a worldwide movement called “Software Craftsmanship”. Developers who are part of this movement focus on keeping the full development process in view and on aiming to deliver what the client really needs. Also, they work hard to to produce high-quality software, and they are willing to continually improve their abilities through various means. So, in short, one could say that software craftsmen aim to “do the right thing in the right way”. I also like the phrase “Craftsmen are people who care”.

The software craftsmanship movement borrows some metaphors from medieval craftsmen with their ethics, guilds and work practices. Of course, we need to keep in mind that they are only metaphors and don’t match our situation one-to-one. Still, it is good to have some powerful pictures that represent important concepts. E.g. the logo of Softwerkskammer, the community of German-speaking software craftsmen, tries to resemble a medieval guild sign.

Journeyman Tour

In the middle ages, apprentices who had finished their education with a craftsman became journeymen. This name is not without reason, as they were forced to go out into the world, work with other craftsmen, learn from them and share what they had learned. (Some real craftsmen still do this nowadays.) A software craftsmanship journeyman tour is the same thing, but usually at a smaller time scale: A developer visits a company and spends a certain amount of time working with them. This time can range from one day to several weeks, depending on what both parties agree upon. The idea behind this is - just like with real craftsmen - that the visitor gets an impression of a company, gets to know the way they work, learns some of their good practices, while he can at the same time bring his knowledge and also his fresh outsider’s perspective to the companies. So both parties gain valuable insights from it.

Craftsman Swap

A Craftsman Swap is basically the same thing as a Journeyman Tour, just with two people from two companies who agree upon each paying a visit to the other company. This exchange can be performed at the same time, but it is more effective when done one after the other because both involved craftsmen can work together in both companies, which should make things much easier.

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