Last week, I attended the UIKonf, an independent iOS conference in Berlin. Besides the well-known benefits of attending a conference, I was dying to go to this particular conference since the first time I watched one of the talks on YouTube.
And then, the organization announced an all-female speakers lineup.
If I had plenty of reasons to go, this decision made me book my flight and organize everything for a seven-hour trip. What I loved about this decision is that they just didn't look for female developers to be speakers in the conference: UIKonf set up a really diverse lineup of awesome developers who were passionate about their topics, who delivered great presentations and who made us think about better architecture, more accessibility features, more inclusion in our products, better code practices and much, much more. After the conference ended, I felt inspired, I discovered new role models and I realized again why representation matters.
To be honest, If I had to pick my favorite talk or make a list of the must-see sessions, I wouldn't be able to do it. Why? Because I really appreciate watching a whole event, even the talks that cover topics that I already know or that are common topics in conferences. I think we never stop learning from everyone and if a topic is usual in conferences, it is because we, developers, are not listening or there is a bigger problem that we cannot solve. In the end, I really love every talk and I love all the insights that I got from them. So I think that is the list that I can make.
There were several talks about creating the best user experience for people who have disabilities. Apple is giving us a lot of tools to implement those experiences, so it is up to us, as developers, to ask about accessibility in the features that we are creating, to include them in the discussion and the development process. I started to think when was the last time I asked for that or the last time that I did a manual test for those cases. I think the first step to include them in our work process is to stop considered them as edge cases or features that can be included in a tweak phrase of your product.
How to start with this: Familiarize with the tools that Apple provide is a good start. Check how VoiceOver functionality works, for example, and try to replicate one of the flows of your app, to check what is missing.
During the UIKonf, it was discussed the Consistency Principle, Declarative Presentations and Promises in IOS. Again, in my opinion, the underlying issue behind these talks is we are still having issues to create consistent practices that allow us to create products/features at the velocity we are thinking them. We are talking about the reactive programming in IOS for a few years, and I think this is the kind of discussion that needs to be made.
Another thing that I really loved about this conference is how visible was the code of conduct: It was clearly mentioned in the website, it was mentioned during the presentation and it was visible in the walls of the venue. In my opinion, when you broadcast this clear what you expect of your attendees, you create an environment of inclusion that allows respectful interaction and constructive critique. And I think that is what makes a conference great for everyone.
The closing talk was made by Lea Marolt Sonnenschein and It was about how the relationship between her and technology was. In my opinion, this was the most relatable talk that I listen in the last few months. I started to think the tools/design patterns/UX experiences we use and which can impact the experience of users with our applications: notifications, gamification, make it difficult to delete your account/remove your subscription, make it difficult to change your privacy settings, etc. So let's think about it if the feature that we are creating makes a real impact on a user's journey.
The reason why I took a week to write this is I wanted to check how the content of the talks is affected by the announcements during the WWDC. Using SwiftUI/Combine will reduce the intention to use RxSwift, Promises and other frameworks that manages reactive programming in a project. But, even considering that the announcement is a game changer for iOS developers, the fact those talks were made is still important and valuable.
Changes and new ideas appear every month, and that is a reason that usually makes people not present a proposal for a talk. Is it going to be relevant by the time I present? Is it going to be relevant? Important? The thing is, in my opinion, without a community that talks about what they need from a platform, without new ideas been spread, changes that the ones presented in the WWDC would not exist. So, the idea here is to do it: prepare yourself and present a proposal.
If you are a beginner or attending conferences is new to you, UIKonf is a perfect first conference to attend. And if you are looking for an opportunity to do your first talk, start preparing your proposal. Next UIKonf is around May 2020. I am sure I will do it too.
The talks → UIKonf doesn't have the talks available yet on Youtube but stay tuned on Twitter or their website. Also, you can check the live stream videos (Day 1 and Day 2). I am not sure if the questions that the attendees made were recorded, but if so, check them. The questions of the audience were amazing.