Devoxx UK kicked off its third year in London with a bang (sorry) when a troupe of samba drummers arrived to kick proceedings off in a suitably raucous tone. With attendees from 32 countries, the event comprised an eclectic mix of both the vibrant user groups dotted around Britain and developers from around the world.
With the conference themed around the idea of ‘Extraordinary Developers,’ Richard Warburton, Mani Sarkar, Mathilda Thompson, Monika Turska, Borge Boakye and Dan Hardiker gamely donned some authentically vintage steam punk gear to bring the idea to life. In total, there were 110 sessions of various types packed into the three day event. Whilst topics ranged from IoT to HTML5 security and microservices, as ever, the core of this Devoxx event was all about Java.
Notably, platform chief Mark Reinhold led a talk on the modular future of the platform. With potentially breaking changes coming in the next big update, Java 9, it’s never been more important to look ahead and prepare. If you want to know how your Java 8 code will fare, check the below Tweet for a quick test:
He also took the time to reflect on the history of Java, which yielded some eyebrow raising revelations…
Whilst sadly this Java branded merchandise has been consigned to the annals of history, there was plenty of designer craft beer on offer. Personally, I enjoyed the API IPA the best, though I may be a little biased.
In a keynote centred on teams, Trisha Gee and Daniel Bryant highlighted the incongruity of an industry geared around collective collaboration that remains in thrall with “rock stars and ninjas.” On a day-to-day level, a strong organisation is driven by the sum of its parts, from juniors to the most senior of coders. Moreover, a strong team is driven by communication, and open sharing of knowledge.
Reflecting on moments in their careers where they’d been prompted to take these points into consideration Bryant noted that, generally, in teams where one individual refuses to effectively work with their colleagues, “If Bob believes everyone has a problem, the problem is usually Bob.” Crucially, the two emphasised that every individual can make a team amazing when there’s a shared vision. As with the 4000 member strong London Java Community, building a successful movement is down to the interaction of all individuals.
The event was brought to a close by a quirky ‘Never Mind the Devoxx’ talk show style keynote, hosted by open source champion David Blevins, head honcho at Tomitribe, who interviewed a series of Java Rock Stars and emerging talents. This included opening speakers Gee and Bryant, Docker’s Patrick Chanezon, Capgemini’s Sarah Saunders, Spring/noted Starbucks fiend Josh Long, and Microsoft’s Amy Nicholson.
As well as the focus on teamwork, there was consideration paid to the importance of being open and freely critical of new technologies. Where are people going wrong with microservices? And where should you proceed with caution before climbing into the mouth of the Docker whale? Also broached was the inflammatory topic of Java EE’s longevity. The conclusion of the speakers was that, as long as there’s enterprise, there’s a place for Java EE, with the caveat that there’s also a host of other exciting solutions that are well worth taking the time to explore.
Of course, you can’t raise the topic of the buzzy tech without bringing up the IoT. In this vein, Amy Nicholson discussed her work at Microsoft and the state of machine learning and sentiment analysis – both the progress and limits. Whilst semantic and contextual understanding are rapidly gaining in sophistication, reassuringly, Nicholson expects that there will always be a need for human interaction to decipher the really subtle layers of meaning.
Although smaller than its Belgian and French counterparts, what really makes Devoxx UK special is the warm, inclusive vibe that you feel walking around the venue. With the advent of microservices, it’s never been more important for teams to open up and foster strong communication between departments. As this event demonstrated, whilst one developer alone might be more than capable of knocking up something cool and useful, the really extraordinary stuff happens when individuals come together.
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