April 30, 2019

A quest in finding the perfect EventStorming backpack


Over recent years, a tool called EventStorming became one of the go-to techniques for Domain-Driven Design consultants to collaboratively explore complex business domains at customers. Since consultants travel a lot from company to company helping with their questions about approaching software delivery this poses a small 1st world problem; How can we still comfortably travel while still carrying the required equipment to do an EventStorming at the customer (without breaking our back or needing a personal fitness coach). This was exactly the conversation we, Maxime Sanglan-Charlier and Kenny Baas-Schwegler, had during DDD Europe 2019. In this post, Maxime and Kenny will share their quest in finding the perfect EventStorming backpack.

Maxime Sanglan-Charlier

Every time I had to facilitate an EventStorming, I used to have my nice Newcrafts tote bag ready, filled up with almost anything I needed to. But even if I was quite happy to do some promotional work for the conference I’m co-organizing, at the customer place, it was definitely not the perfect way to carry all the gear. Sticky notes were a bit damaged and not easy to find under a pile of sharpies, tape rolls and other stuff. There was not enough place to hold a paper roll in it neither. I always ended up having my laptop & charger plus my A5 notebook in my regular bag, my Newcrafts tote bag on the other shoulder and a paper roll under my arm. I really needed to find a better way to carry everything and take care of my weak back.

I started searching for a compartmentalized suitcase, like the one’s handyman’s used to carry all the tools they need. They come in handy when you need to organize your stickies & sharpies but they’re quite heavy and you cannot put your laptop in it. Also, to be completely honest, they were not at all meeting all my expectations in terms of good-looking standards. All the credits go to my girlfriend who told me to search for a camera backpack instead of a suitcase. After a bit of research, I decided to buy the USA Gear DSLR/SLR Camera Backpack. I found it perfectly convenient with its padded dividers that I can use to organize everything inside. It also comes with a tripod holder that I use to hold one paper roll and the laptop compartment is big enough to put my computer and my A5 notebook and it has an accessory pocket big enough to hold my charger, wallet and keys. Most importantly, it’s very comfortable and it makes it easy to carry everything I need without breaking my back!

It can hold up to 12 76x76mm sticky notes pads and 20 76x127mm pads from different colours, 2 Super Sticky 101x152mm Index Card’s pads, 2 Post-it Full Adhesive Rolls, 1 50mm masking tape roll, some arrow notepads from different colours, 40 sharpies/whiteboard markers, …

I’m really happy with this backpack and always pleased to see surprised people when I open it to start an EventStorming!

Kenny Baas-Schwegler

The people who know me they probably have seen me walking around with my trusty flight case. I recently even designed my own with my colleague João:

While the flight case has everything I need in order to do EventStorming, the case also weighs 17 kilos. Now I don’t do EventStorming every day, so I don’t carry the flight case with me every day to the customer. Unfortunately, not every EventStorming is planned, there are a lot of situations where EventStorming is not planned:

  • Building software is not a planned activity, so sometimes we just need to do more design before we can continue.
  • I was invited last minute to a meeting I need to facilitate.
  • Even worse I find myself in a meeting discussing complex domains sitting around a table with no visualisation.

So for this, I used to carry around a small bag with some post-its, sharpies and Neuland markers. Problem with that is, well it is an extra bag I need to carry with me besides my backpack that has my laptop in it. While talking with Maxime during DDD Europe 2019 he showed me the backpack he used. I loved his use of a camera backpack as pockets for organising stickies. Unfortunately, his backspace has to little room to accommodate everything I carry around with me, so I started my quest in looking for my own backpack that has slightly more space.

For me it should hold the basic EventStorming equipment:

  • 3m 76 x 76 mm Orange, Blue, Green, pink post-its
  • 3m 76 x 127 mm Yellow, Purple, Red, Blue post-its
  • Memoblok 3M Post-it 4690 Super Sticky 101x152mm
  • Index Cards Blue, Green, Yellow
  • Different size post-it label

It should also hold my 15” laptop with battery charger, my Neuland markers, my A4 Bambook and A5 notebook, the DDD reference book I always carry with me, and my water bottle. Also, it should be able to carry with me a paper roll or my new carry on bambook whiteboard. Most importantly it should fit correctly on my back, and least importantly I prefer a backpack that looks nice. I finally ended up with 2 backpacks that fit these requirements, the MindShift BackLight 18L Photo Daypack Charcoal and the National Geographic Rain Forest camera and laptop backpack M. I knew the Mindshift would really have everything I need and more, I did not know if the National Geographic had that. I finally did order the National Geographic because I had a better gut feeling with it. It looked better and it can also be used as a normal backpack. Until today I still not regret that decision!

Also, this post is published on the Xebia blog site.

Kenny Baas-Schwegler

As a socio-technical systems thinker, agile architect, and Domain-Driven Design expert, I work with CTOs, managers, architects, and teams to change how we design software. Through facilitating and doing collaborative modeling, I catalyze organizations, teams, and groups of people to an agile architecture approach to building sustainable quality software products.