In 2017 I attended the DevNexus conference in Atlanta and wrote my thoughts of it at the time. I was mildly critical of some of the content at the time and as I look back on that review I realize that some of my complaints may have been more due to my own shortcomings at the time rather than the fault of the presenters or organizers. Whether I liked to admit it or not, I'd fallen out of touch with our industry. I didn't know what Docker was. I hadn't ever heard of Kubernetes and didn't know a thing about "serverless". I wasn't using Typescript, Angular, NodeJS - I didn't even have Node installed on my laptop! In the months that followed I decided it was time to refocus my dedication to improving my skill set as a developer and at least learn about many of the latest languages, frameworks and trends. Rather than criticize the conference for not providing content that was suited for me, I realized that I needed to be in a place where the content did matter to me as a developer. After all, conference content is nothing if not directly reflective of current and future industry trends.
So that's what I've spent the last year doing. I know what Docker is - and heck, I even use it at work! Serverless (as a concept) makes sense to me now - another work project even had some Lambda functions to offload some intensive report generation. I'm using Typescript and Angular 4/5 now and I used Node and NPM on a daily basis. I even started digging into other things like the Spark Java framework (as you can see here on my blog) and have just generally regained a focus on my skills and my passion to write code and learn new things.
As part of that renewed focus I made it my mission to get back to sharing that passion by speaking at conferences again.
My session this year was titled "Getting Groovy with Spark Java". I've always loved using Groovy and the Spark Java framework is a really nice fit for Groovy (or Java - or even Kotlin) developers looking for a lightweight, microservice friendly framework. The session was videotaped and once those videos are online I can share if anyone is interested in watching it. For those who attended and would like a copy of the slides, they are here as well as embedded below.
My overall impressions on the conference were very positive this year. It's hard to share a review as an attendee since I spoke at the event and spent a portion of my time finalizing my slides and demos but I did get a chance to attend several talks and was very satisfied with the content. I learned more about Dockerfiles (thanks to Raju Gandhi who was a great speaker) and got introduced to StencilJS which is a
framework library for web components by Mike Hartington who is another great speaker (and good guy that I got to spend a bit of time getting to know). I also attended a session on Gradle. I admit that I knew much of the content already (but of course learned a few new tricks) but I attended knowing that I might not learn much just because it was presented by Groovy legend and amazing presenter Ken Kousen. (My favorite line: You can do '--dry-run', which is abbreviated '-m' which means.... "mmmmm...dry run, I guess). I attended a few sessions by my good friend - the legendary Raymond Camden: one on VueJS and another on serverless. Both of Ray's sessions were filled with info and the lighthearted demos that he's famous for.
The keynotes were both great - my favorite being the talk by Kelsey Hightower who is a real pro. He handled a few technical glitches with poise, composure and humor that showed everyone he's "been there, done that" and still made the session informative and enjoyable.
I'll summarize by saying that Pratik and Vince (and Lauren and the rest of the staff and volunteers) continue to amaze me with their ability to organize successful and informative events. I'm not sure how they pull it off, but they continue to raise the bar. I'm glad they've given me the opportunity to present and hope that this is just the first of many events in the future. I met so many other great developers and made valuable contacts that I'm sure will last through the years.