The very first Voxxed Day, taking place in Vienna, Austria, is a mere four days away – and needless to say, we’re pretty excited.  Ahead of the inaugural event, we’ve caught up with three local organizers from around Europe to find out how plans are shaping up. Representing Vienna (and Berlin), we’ve got Grzegorz Duda, Federico Yankelevich from Voxxed Days Ticino, and Altuğ B. Altıntaş, speaking on behalf of the Istanbul gathering. 

If you’re coming to Austria this week, we look forward to seeing you there! Want to join us? We’ve got a special 20% discount to share for the few remaining tickets to Voxxed Days Vienna-  just use the code “VoxxedLastMinute” when you register, and save vital funds for post-event networking (i.e. beer).

Voxxed: What was your motivation for organizing a Voxxed Day?

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 15.56.39Federico: We really enjoyed the Devoxx UK and Devoxx BE conferences and we have many colleagues with the same opinion. We wanted to allow all the developers in Ticino to have the same experience: listen, learn and hack with other developers. Our work benefits from good team-work, and opportunities like these events improve collaboration.

Grzegorz: When I was organizing 33d Degree Conference I was looking at surrounding countries. When we joined the Devoxx Family and became Devoxx Poland and I heard about the Voxxed Days idea, I immediately started planning for Voxxed Days Vienna and Berlin. Why Vienna? There are not many Java related conferences there, and the Austrian Java community needs a major event. I love building new things, I have had great experiences organizing conferences, and Vienna is a four hour drive from Krakow, my home town. I am really excited to build a community conference in Vienna (and Berlin later in the year).

Altuğ: This Voxxed Day will be the first international Java event in Turkey. This is important for us. Also, being part of Voxxed means being part of Devoxx – and organising a Devoxx  event is the final aim for us. This Voxxed Day will be a test for us. We’re especially targeting other countries too – Azerbaijan, and Saudi Arabia. Also Eastern Europe and Russia. These are our priorities. We’ve got some really great speakers so far – Reza Rahman, Gavin King…so I think we’ve got the potential for a really great event.

Do you have prior experience in organising tech events?

Federico:  We have always supported JUG Lugano, and (fellow organiser) Mario still leads JUG Milano. We have run other smaller events like CodeRetreat, Hackergarten, and company events for developers too.

Altuğ: Yes, we have organized several middle sized events in Istanbul – I started my Java journey by writing a book, and the community has grown up around me. We started up the Istanbul JUG, and then started to organise small café meet-ups, inviting other speakers. Step by step, we arrived at this point.

Grzegorz: Yes. I was co-leader of Polish JUG for 2 years. With other Polish JUG leaders, we started the GeeCon conference in 2009. In 2011 I started 33rd Degree, which gathered 1200 participants  last year and became biggest Java conference in Poland and Central-Eastern Europe. This year, as we changed the name to Devoxx Poland, we are expecting 1500+ participants. In the meantime, I have tried many different kinds of events, also a small Unconference – called COOLuary, similar in format to the Java Posse Roundup.

Why do you think community is so important for the developer space?

Altuğ: Community is everything – without the technology community, there will be no growth. I think the Java community is important – but it seems like JavaScript is increasingly becoming a common community space. I see people from Java, Microsoft, all coming together around this JVM language. There are no rivals this for me. But I also think that JavaScript needs a standard – and I hope it will take its cue from Java with the JCP in this respect.

Federico: Software developers often work in their little piece of code, busy and under stress, running behind customer ideas and improbable deadlines. We can get so much from others experiences and software is so cheap to re-use that getting the right hint from another community member can save you hours (or even days) of work! We need a strong community, ready to help and to share code using open source licenses.

Grzegorz: There is no better way of learning new things than discussing with friends and colleagues who love Java as much as you do. In any office, not everybody is going to be a passionate Java developer, and even if they are, they will have very similar experiences to you. Going to community events like JUGs or conferences, you have the opportunity to learn from other people’s experiences and different points of view.

What to you are the most important things to include in a tech conference?

Federico: The following;

  1. Content: definitely the most important thing is to motivate the audience to join.
  2. Speakers: make them feel like they are at home (or better).
  3. Hacks: we are developers and we like to see how problems are solved with code… hackergarten all the way!
  4. Fun: make it a pleasant day for all the attendees.

Altuğ: I want to hear unique tech talks – not just from Rock Stars. If the content is rich and interesting, then that’s a motivating factor for me. It’s also important that the price is reasonable.

Grzegorz: Someone said “Content is King” and I fully agree. The most important thing is the quality of speakers and talks. This is why people are coming to the conference. It is good to have comfortable chairs, big screens and good food, however, without extraordinary content, your conference will die. We were lucky with that one. When we opened the call for papers during Devoxx BE, within just one month, we received more than 90 talk submissions, including proposals from well known speakers, Java Champions and Rock Star speakers. There were so many good talks that we have decided to extend conference from 3 to 4 tracks.

What talks are you most excited about, and why?

Federico:  The keynote by Juergen Hoeller, speaking about his last 10 years as lead Spring Developer. It is the first time speaking about this for him, and we are sure it will be interesting for everybody to know some details about his experience. The other talks are also great… for the first year we have not done a C4P, but we invited the speakers we already saw and we appreciate most. We carefully selected them… And we have been lucky most of them wanted to come to Ticino!

Grzegorz: There are many great talks. However, we have been able to invite Greg Young. He will be talking about Polyglot Data. If you have ever heard Greg, you know that you can’t miss his talk. Another one that I can’t wait for is “Coding Culture” by Sven Peters. His talks are always a good mixture of fun and knowledge that you can’t find in books. There is also talk on “Quantum Performance Effect”, delivered by Sergey Kuksenko. It would be great to see how Java works on hardware and what challenges engineers have to make to make the JVM even faster. There are also other talks that sound very controversial, for example “Java on iOS? Yes, you can!” and “Candies for everybody: hacking from 9 to 5”, and many more exciting talks.

Why do you think the Java community is so strong?

Grzegorz: The community is very open and willing to learn new things. Every couple of weeks it seems that  there is new language for JVM, a  new web framework, a new build tool, etc. There is huge diversity of tools that you can learn and use in your work. This makes being a Java developer so cool. You need to learn all the time. It is both challenging and exciting at the same time.

Federico:  Java is a great language with thousands of powerful libraries!, Java 8 has finally introduced some great features that we all were waiting for, and Java 9 will continue in this vein. Oracle has done much more than what we expected after the Sun acquisition! Java is strong and reliable for enterprises on the server side… it will stay here for a long time.

Altuğ: Java is strong because it has standards – and this is why the community is huge. It moves forward easily because of standards. The structure it has makes it stronger than other languages. The open source aspect is important too, but I think having standards is key.

Behind the Scenes at Voxxed Days: Meet the Local Organisers

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