Few weeks ago I went to attend a WeAreDevelopers conference in Vienna. The venue is just 10 minutes walk time from the place where I live.

The official web page for the conference is here and all of the talks can be watched at youtube here.

I will go through all of the talks I watched with a very brief message before giving my thoughts on the organization of the conference.

Day 1

Opening. For such a small country as Austria a conference hosting 3500+ developers is a big deal. Chancellor of Austria (most powerful position) took the keyword and, to my disappointment, for the most part spoke in German. I think this would be fine if only this conference wasn’t advertised as an international conference. In any case it is admirable that importance of IT industry is acknowledged by the Austrian government.

Build a World We All Want to Live. This talk was a lot about the future and exponential growth. I’m afraid there not much of takeaway except of a sense of a motivational inspiration.

Challenges of Autonomous Driving. I first heard about Rimac concept car on TopGear TV Show. It was very interesting to hear about the Croatia’s concept car from engineering perspective. What I learned is that there are a lot more of a challenge that has to be addressed than it is advertised by the car makers such as Tesla, Honda, etc.

IoT & Advanced Analytics – Real World Challenges for Developers. Austrian railway company explaining how they use all kinds of detectors on their trains and how their data is analysed. This does not get anywhere close to using IA, though still interesting.

One ID to Rule Them All. This was supposed to be a presentation on identification methods (think passports, ID cards) but somehow the presenter talked about solar panels, exponential growth of technology, and near free energy. Not sure how these two play together, but the title was definitely misleading.

How Different Open Hardware is to Open Software. Interesting talk, but again misleading title. Speaker presented his robotic arm project and how it can be used by people without an arm. Takeaway: these days you can download some code, buy Arduino and 3D-print yourself an arm within hours.

The Early Days of Id Software: Programming Principles. I found zillion of youtube videos with the same title where Romero gives the same talk on different conferences. Best to watch would be this another video here. He goes through the history of Id-software in the talk. Takeaway: John Romero’s Principles for Programmers

Getting Computers to Understand Us. This was a presentation on NLP and AI that started with punchcards.

How to Design Human Centered Chatbots? Takeaway: I didn’t learn how to design chatbots but I understood that chatboat euphoria is on a downtrend.

The Future of Online Money: Creating Secure Payments Globally. This was about PayPal money transactions and security. Takeway: eliminating middleman helps in improving processes.

Less Process, More Guidance. Takeway: The Atlassian Team Playbook.

Day 2

Extreme Continuous Integration. Automic company presented how they do hundreds of builds of different components for multiple platforms continuously.

Continuous Delivery Journey @ Wirecard. This was more of continuation of CI and CD topic.

Monorepos in the wild. A story of going to one repository. Some pros and cons where presented with a message that monorepo != monoapp.

Rebuilding an Aircraft on the Fly. Yet another story, now about fixing CSS by Trivago company. In my opinion this was just a common sense story.

Javascript @ Netflix. Standards of JS and their life-cycle were explained.

JS @ Uber. About programming languages & architecture approaches at Uber. Things like NodeJs, Go, Python, and micro-services were mentioned in addition to JS.

The Artist and the Machine. A lightning talk about nice spiral graphs. Takeaway: I bought my daughter a spirograph toy.

Working Backwards from the Customer. Amazon explained how they start developing with a press release. If they don’t like what is written it might not make sense to start doing it. If they like what is written and it sounds cool they add more details, create more technical translation and finally this is converted into development. I believe this was my biggest takeaway from the conference in general. In software projects it happens very often that customer does not get what they want. Starting with customer and being obsessed with the customer is probably something that makes Amazon stand out.

Model-Minded Development. A presenter from Google talked about importance of having a good model between computer and the real world.

Customizing Railways to Individuality. National Austrian railroad company talked about their challenges. They are in business for 178 years and can be considered dinosaurs when it comes to software.

Scaling Open Source Communities. Tips and tricks of handling an open source project were given. A lot of insight into OS software lifecycle.

Angular, Google’s Popular Application Framework. A relatively simple demo of Angular framework was given. Takeaway: Angular will last longer than any other JS framework. Let’s see.

PHP in 2017. This was somewhat hilarious talk by the inventor of PHP. He talked about lots of performance improvements that come with PHP7 and how that can “save the planet”. Takeaway: This blog is self-hosted word-press. I upgraded the PHP version to 7 making my contribution to more sustainable future.

Developers Are Writing the Script for the Future. Definitely the highlight of the conference was a presentation by the creator of StackOverflow Joel Spolsky. This was inspirational talk and a great way to close the conference.

Organization and conclusion

Many people have complained about significant overbooking for the conference. It was very unpleasant to see organizers bragging about 3,8K attendees when there was obviously not enough room for all of them. There are some angry tweets and blog posts online, like this one WeAreDevelopers – A Mess of a Conference. I agree. It was very disappointing to find myself in crowd of people and not being able to switch tracks. Basically, if you decided to switch track you would end up somewhere standing on the side not being able to listed or to see. Second day proved to be much-much better, but who knows, maybe, this is because of some people simply decided that this conference is not worth their time?

In my opinion it was the second day that saved the conference. Better talks were delivered at the second day and more comfortable access to stages, food, and company stands was possible.

In any case, I’m really happy that such a big conference was organized in the city where I live now and that many well-known speakers from well-known companies came to talk. There was a lot to learn. I’m looking forward to #WAD2018.

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