This year I decided to dive deeper into the Dev community! From reading your awesome dev.to articles to writing blog posts myself. But now, it was time for the next step: Visiting a Developer Conference to submerge myself in tech talks, hands-on coding and networking! I would like to share some experiences and insights from the conference. Of course, I cannot recite the whole awesomeness of the speaker's content but I will try to give you some TL;DR on my favorite ones!
Day 1 (Array starts at 0... but I only joined on Thursday being the second day of the conference 😉 )
Devoxx UK is held at the Business Design Center in Angel, London. It is quite the busy area but once inside the Center, you find your way fairly quickly. This year, inside the entrance hall they prepped the DeLorean, the iconic car from Back to the Future! - Does that mean time travel is a feature of the next Oracle Java Release cycle?! 😀 I could have actually asked them as they had a booth at the conference - so did a bunch of other companies. Even the country of Estonia was represented (because apparantly they have migrated their governance 100% online!?). After getting explained what all those companies do, in exchange for Black Duck socks, I headed directly to the conference rooms!
Andrew Tarwin's kick-off to making your work place worthwhile
The opening keynote showed me that this conference is not only about the new fancy languages out there or the most treacherous pitfalls but that it also focuses on how we (should) work together. And Tarwin's answer would be: with more humor! It can make dull tasks enjoyable (e-mails) and can defuse critical situations (pull request comments). Just know your MAP (Medium - Audience - Purpose) and you can use humor for the better! And writing e-mails do feel like a refreshing task now. 😉
This was the talk I was most excited about. I am an absolute IntelliJ Idea fanboy and no other than Trisha Gee from JetBrains was honoring us with her witty sleights of hand that are Idea shortcuts. Did you know that Idea is a time machine? Drop frame while Debugging if you stepped too far! Or Inject Language to make JSON, SQL, or RegEx more readable.
Enter? I do not want to use my mouse anymore! 😆
Unfortunately, I did not have much contact with containerization but Gageot showcased several tools by Google to make your life easier! Having played around with Docker, I could not imagine what a hassle it was to debug your code with slow Docker builds, countless configuration files and storage-intensive images. But in this descriptive talk, Gageot was able to demonstrate Kubernetes, Kaniko, Jib and many other helpful tools in a meaningful manner.
On our project, we recently started to work with Kafka. So, I was excited to bring home some useful tricks to improve our event streams. Godfrey pointed out that although this framework is made for low latency, quick and resilient work, it is not shipping with Durability out of the box. Therefore, he shared some configurations that can be tweaked to give you exactly that. For example, increasing the
acks parameter (acknowledgements) to have your data replicated to all cluster machines, or enabling
retries which are set to 0 by default. Exception handling, versioning and monitoring are also things to be considered. A very handy talk!
As rocking as the Devoxx sounds, it is nothing like a music festival
So, networking is a thing. Maybe, the thing. And usually, I do not have issues approaching people in public and making new friends. One of my favorite places to get to know new pals are music festivals after all. But a developer conference evidently has a different format. There are conference talks in similar time slots but scheduled much more densely than the gigs on a festival. Thus, there is little waiting time to kill and eventually, no room for any eye-catching goofy dancing for entertainment (or is there?). There is usually no conversation with a fan next to you. After one “developer gig” ended, I hustled to the next one, only to find myself just in time to marvel at the expertise of another speaker! In silence.
So how do people do it? For some it is fairly simple by just introducing themselves. If that is too hard, pay attention to hooks – like some merchandise someone acquired and ask where they got it. Even just asking how to get to that booth that gives out all the ice cream can get you talking! Anything just to get started. I learned to skip slots and just roam around the conference floor. Picking up where other people go next and ask if I might join. And boom – there is time to talk! Plus: You do not have to miss out on any sessions. And maybe you will be visiting one you would never thought of going before!
But at the end of the day, the network-iest of all the events awaited us: the DevRoxx Party!
Bert Jan Schrijver’s deconstruction of DevOps
When you are like me, you are probably asking yourself way too often what DevOps actually is. Is it the thing that you do when you turn red Jenkins balls into blue ones? Schrijver's suggestion is that DevOps is a culture: Having building, testing and deploying pipelines in a team where everyone feels responsible for the frameworks and processes behind bringing your software into production.
From opening key note to closing key note: Hofvander had missed her flight giving her the chance to be one of the last voices to be heard. Along the construction (and unfortunate) deconstruction of the Titanic, she showed the audience that even the greatest minds in engineering, testing and design are not immune to tragedies in production. Therefore, she keeps drilling into projects and minds everywhere to make Security mainstream and keeping the awareness high for all the icebergs ahead!
We have all these tools and all these interesting riddles in front of us, everyday. Who has time for a break then? - While being on a conference or hunting down a bug can put us in eustress (stimulating, beneficial stress), it can turn into disstress quickly. This is when we need a break. Wilde strongly identifies the different signs of an upcoming Burnout and - more importantly - how to recognize these in other people. Because the best thing to prevent or get out of this void is having someone to hold on to!
Venkat Subramaniam’s fluency in all the languages and his bet for the future
Subramaniam is a phenomenon. He talks fast but you understand every word. He writes code like it was a novel. And he can look into the future! But first he presented all the cool things you can do with JVM languages. Doesn't matter if it is Auto Casting in Kotlin, creating XML documents in Groovy or Lazy Evaluation in Scala. Subramaniam rides beautifully along these language features and makes me want to learn all the languages - like he says "not to use them all, but to be able to adapt to change easily". And what his forecast for the future of programming is, you ask? See for yourself.
Don't wait for the future, it is already here
After two days of being the spongiest absorber of wisdom, I feel inspired. Inspired by the energy of the presenters and the possibilities we have. But I liked that it was not only a promo event for the newest tools and coolest designs but also a roadmap with dangers and uncertainty ahead. It was pleasant to see that the human factor also never fell short throughout these two days. I also feel like I have to take time to look at the talks again, trying things out for myself. All in all, it is always refreshing to step out of your everyday tasks and let your mind stock up on new experiences.
In the end, I was blessed to have met a lot of talkative and curious people. Doing various things and technologies in different companies all over the world. All had a story to tell and giving away tips and tricks. Throughout the conference, you keep meeting them again and passing familiar faces makes the conference feel more like a community-driven event (with an event-driven community 😉). There was always the chance to exchange numbers or scanning the QR-Code on your badge. And with LinkedIn and Co., nowadays, it is a breeze to keep in touch. To really live the old saying: You always meet twice.
Therefore: See you next year, Devoxx!