Coincidence? I think not!
I had the pleasure and privilege of attending the conference, and the comic about sums it up for me. Here are some take aways:
APIs rock – literally
There was a presentation on building a distortion pedal by connecting audio nodes. It destroyed my deep-rooted admiration for the windows media player’s oscilloscope, since there is no actual magic involved.
Another speaker introduced a complete set of APIs for the physical web, including fun ones like the device motion and device orientation APIs, and more serious (but useful) tools such as battery monitoring and page visibility.
Functional programming is all the rage…
And it can result in dangerously polite sparring matches. It seemed that everyone agrees that FP is great, but they disagree on how best to do it. They say immutability is a real good property for code. Well, I say it’s a real bad property for people. I personally like to mutate about everything in my code, because I don’t know better (yet), and I don’t see the point of making new objects all the time (yet).
After attending a well-rounded presentation on Elm for beginners, I ventured into one on monads. I still don’t know what a monad is because these people made no sense, but it’s okay because there was tasty food and drinks after that. On the second day, FP was on the menu again with an introduction to the VAVR library, but some people say that you should use streams from Java 8 instead, and others state that there is no point in trying to make Java functional because there are other languages that do it way better. But they were all very polite.
GitHub teams are a free people
There was emotion in the room when the speaker from GitHub explained that they were deploying updates BEFORE testing them by the QA specialists. And that it enabled them to deploy updates and features more than 400 times a week just by pinging a bot on Slack. It is a very unorthodox thing to say in a room full of opinionated developers, but this change in their workflow actually makes sense in their context. It probably makes sense in more contexts than we might think, too. He also said something that was good to hear: “When you have a process and you find it complicated, always ask yourself “why do we do this?””. Amen. And yes, this principle applies to the
infamous GitFlow workflow too.
Mobile native, multi-platform and progressive web
Making a web app starts with an important choice between mobile native, multi-platform and progressive web. A progressive web app is an application that looks like a mobile application but it’s actually a web app that you can reach from your home screen, and… I don’t know much more about it because I had to leave early. But this concept was mentioned in two different presentations and it sounds like a good compromise = no need to make a harsh decision.
Do try this at home
I’ve been to a couple of conferences about technical communication and couple other about agile. One fundamental difference between these and a developer’s conference is that all you need to try out the things you learn here is time. And the web is full of open source and free tools that can support learning many languages and making many types of projects. On the other hand, I find it much harder to practice or learn documentation skills or agile experiments with just time, because these exist only to serve an ecosystem that you rarely have on your own, and which is a prerequisite. Code can be approached in a more independent way. Of course, it gets more interesting when you put everything together. But for a beginner, coding has this “you can try it at home” effect.
Time to wrap up
The RivieraDev organizers did a great job: the location was big enough without having to run across the tracks, the keynotes were engaging, the talks were pleasing and varied, the socca was tasty. Kudos to them!
I left this conference with more: more things in my bag (thanks for the mugs!), more things in my phone (where am I going to find the time and energy to investigate this never-ending list of new concepts that I wrote down?) and more things in my head (I totally need to find a project to try the audio APIs). I also feel more
stupid clueless, as in “I don’t even know X, everyone here knows X, what am I doing here?”. But this symptom shall come to pass, because people are not immutable.