This article is about Kotlin love stories, strong women techmakers and smart developers with beautiful hearts and dreams which came true.
I am very happy to share my amazing Kotlin/Everywhere journey. If you don’t know what Kotlin/Everywhere is; At Google I/O 19, Google announced some very big news: Android development will become increasingly Kotlin-first. To help us dive deeper into Kotlin, they announced a new program launched together with JetBrains: Kotlin/Everywhere, a series of community-driven events focusing on the potential of Kotlin on all platforms. And I volunteered to give talks about Kotlin :)
Why did I want to be a volunteer? Because I love Kotlin so much. Before giving talks I started a new contract and the code was mostly in Java. Prior to that contract I had already been developing in Kotlin for a long time and going back to Java 6 was a little disappointing as an Android developer. The interesting thing is that during the 2016 GDG Devfest in Izmir we were already talking about Kotlin, but many London based companies were yet to convert their apps from Java to Kotlin. With that in mind I prepared a presentation and convinced the project’s stakeholders that we should migrate to Kotlin because it is an important investment. I was converting the code to Kotlin during my workdays and attending talks about Kotlin, reading articles during my evenings nights. I was full of Kotlin. In short, I wanted to be a volunteer because I had a lot to share :)
I believe in the ‘cliche’ that it is not about the destination, but the journey itself. And during my amazing journey I learnt a lot about Kotlin whilst meeting a lot of great people. I always say there are great people I should meet in this world. As a world citizen, I found many world citizen friends who are rock stars in their own ways.
Preparing the presentation was a big challenge for me. The first time I developed in Kotlin I felt like I upgraded from my old rust bucket of a car to a brand new EV :) Kotlin is so modern, idiomatic and developer friendly. For the presentation I wanted to make sure I get the simplicity and modern approach of Kotlin across. I wanted to draw comparisons between Java and Kotlin, but I still had no idea how to convey the benefits of using Kotlin over Java to my audience. In fact I had no idea who would even be in the audience! At that point I watched many talks of Trisha Gee, Jake Wharton and Florina Muntenescu. I watched these talks everywhere: In the park, by the sea, in my parent’s garden, on the plane, anywhere I could get a chance! I did not only watch Kotlin talks, but also Java talks given since 2016. And I read many medium articles about Java Kotlin migration.
The event series was led by Florina Muntenescu, who reviewed my slides and gave very important feedback in the beginning of the journey. I was super lucky in getting her support!
In the meantime, I announced on the GDG UK and Ireland Slack channel that if GDGs are organising a K/E meetup, I would volunteer to visit their city and share my experiences. Soon after I started to receive invitations :) To help keep track of my hectic schedule I created an excel sheet to make sure I knew where I had to be and when! My Developer Relations Managers Alessandro Palmieri and Noa Havazelet were also there to help and support me at every step along the way.
I was really excited when I received the first invitation from GDG Galway :) I felt so lucky to start there as they are incredibly friendly and supportive. Tony and Deirdre invited me to their house. After the talk Julien, Tony, Felipe and Rosanna showed me the beautiful city Galway. They carried microphones, cameras, and a lot of other filming equipment with them while showing me the city. I was so grateful to have the opportunity to chat with them. You can check out an interview of me and Tony, recorded by the ever so kind GDE Felipe :)
Giving consecutive talks can be tiring and you should be careful not to burn out. After Galway I took a short break and went on my summer holiday. Being fully recharged after my holiday I resumed giving talks every other weekend. I was travelling one weekend and resting and researching about Kotlin the other weekend. It was super productive! I didn’t get bored of travelling or get sick by commuting in the cold weather.
After Galway, next stop Athlone. The audience consisted mostly of Java developers who wanted to learn Kotlin. They found the codelab very useful to understand the power of Kotlin. David, Serena, Sharon were very friendly and helped during the planning. As there is no direct flight to Athlone, I flew to Dublin and the kind Henna hosted me at her house for the night :) I also managed to catch up with my erasmus friend Felix from Universidad de Sevilla over lunch. He was working for IBM in Dublin. He was so proud of me and I was just so happy how supportive he was meeting me after 7 years :)
I have one more story about Athlone: After my talk, I went to a pub for dinner with four lovely ladies from Brazil. They moved to Athlone roughly a year ago and we shared our experiences when we first moved out from our home countries. I realised we had very similar feelings, although we are from different countries! The first few months were very challenging and difficult as we all dealt with homesickness and had a lot going on with work and settling in. It is not easy to move to another country as a female developer. But the fact that we are such strong and resilient women.. We knew what we wanted and we got it!!
While giving talks, I continued working on my customer’s project, converting the codebase to Kotlin. I discovered more tricks about migration and. You can track the percentage of languages being used in GitHub for development and it was very exciting and rewarding seeing Kotlin make quick progress! We celebrated the progress every time we checked. And the best part, in the end there were 0 bugs related to migration! 0 bugs is just great isn’t it? The trick here was to create small tickets for migration and to test them very carefully. Additionally we also added more unit tests for the parts that were not unit-tested.
Up next, the GDC Cloud London meetup at the Campus London! Amanda and Saverio ordered great Kotlin swags for the attendees, my favorite was the Kotlin/Everywhere Oyster card holder :) We had an interesting attendee profile at the meetup. We had lots of project managers! They mentioned they had heard about this new language Kotlin and they wanted to learn about it to be more supportive with their mobile teams. It is just great, isn’t it?
After London, I was invited by GDG Oxford. I had the opportunity to spend time with the gorgeous Bushra and Klaudia. I am so proud of these two Women Techmakers undertaking their PhD’s at the University of Oxford.
After Oxford, I went to Sevilla, my beautiful second home :) I was invited by the Sevilla Java Group which is run by Israel Rodriguez. I presented in front of Trisha Gee!! It was an incredible experience for me. I attended her talk when I was just a fresh graduate and she live-coded 50 mins without hesitation! I was very impressed and since that moment she has become one of my biggest idols :) The best thing is she works for JetBrains and I had the opportunity to hear her thoughts and feedback. She was also kind enough to take questions from the attendees. One of her answers really stuck with me: “Kotlin is a language developed by developers for developers.”
I would have never imagined presenting in front of Trisha Gee. She is a very humble and down to earth person. Trisha’s and Israel’s valuable feedback helped me improve slides that I use for my talks.
An important question from an attendee was how one should go about convincing their team to make the switch to Kotlin; as they had tried and couldn’t get their team’s support. I explained that the best way to get your team’s buy in is to simply convince them of Kotlin as an investment: Less crashes, less boilerplate code and a more developer friendly approach will save time and streamline things down the line.
The talk in Reading was the most interesting one as I was scheduled in at the last minute to have a talk . Big news: We had Romain Guy, Chet Haase and Christina Lee at our Devfest and I was going to present in front of them! Still I am not sure that I truly lived that day! I have been watching their talks for the last 10 years and I traveled with them from London to Reading. And now I have also presented in front of them!! :) My legs were shaking in front of them ... It was my ninth talk! I grew very confident in my presentation skills after my third talk. However, presenting in front of them was not easy at all...And of course Murphy was there, too! I didn’t have any issue with the presentation until that talk, but that day, the slides started acting up and I got two black screens! I had no idea what happened there.. After my talk, Chet and Romain mentioned they liked my presentation and my Kotlin story :) Another dream came true! :)
Meanwhile I received an invitation from Huw and so the next stop was Cardiff. I visited Cardiff in 2012 before with my developer friends. It was great to come back and meet the new developers there. It was a super rainy and cold November day but with super warm people :)
Two weeks after the Cardiff talk I went to beautiful Brighton and met the Brighton Kotlin group there. Again, I visited Brighton in 2012 and as far as I remembered Brighton was a party city for me :) But I was so impressed with the attendees, particularly the organisers Lee and Luke are great people. I also met George there who uses Kotlin for multi-platform development, people working in the HMRC! The Brighton Kotlin Group also gave me my first Kotlin t-shirt, what a lovely present! And the final stop:Leeds!
I have been a GDG member since 2014 and I feel that I have the biggest family in the world. I can just go anywhere and meet friendly and smart GDG members there. It is a great family :) This journey was very special and educational for me. Looking forward to my next journey!
I also received a lot of support from my friends. For example, my dear friend Raza, who is a great Scrum master! He helped me with my posts on LinkedIn and Twitter. Alessio, who is an engineer at Google, dedicated his Friday nights helping me with tips and tricks on how to use Google slides effectively.
In short, if you want to do something, just start from somewhere, and give all your energy to it. Read about it, practice it, feel it and share it!