I have been lucky to attend devcon 2013 this year. A big thanks to twt.de for making this possible. I’ll try to recap the conference, although it might be hard because so many things were going on.
First, some basic info about the conference:
The first thing I noticed even in my preparations before the conference was the broad approach in the talks and presentations. They really had subjects for almost everybody. And being kind of a generalist myself, this meant conflicts of interest in almost every slot. Which is a kind of luxury problem not many conferences have 😉
Here are some of my personal highlights of the conference:
Citing @muhdiekuh: „An IT Conference in a multiplex cinema is a no brainer.“… It was very refreshing to read code on slides from the last row of the room. Cinema displays are very well suited for all those gory details of tech presentations that get lost on a 800×600 low-res beamer. Everything was crystal clear and the big screen sometimes dwarfed the presenters which also led to some funny tweets all the while 😉 But really: THAT is the way to show slides!
One thing that kind of sucked about the cinema was that the foyer definitely isn’t meant as a place for hosting 1500 people at once. It is normally just an area that you pass through on your way out or your way in. Grabbing something to eat and talking to people was sometimes a bit packed. But I’d take that if I can have the big screen any day of the week 😉
Tarek mentioned that they had Sarah, a professional event manager, working on the conference preparation for quite some time. This showed in many details, big and small. You found lots of people to ask questions about org-stuff and using cinemaxx staff for food and drinks was also brilliant. The coat check was also a nice detail and the overall organisation went smoothly. Kudos for all that small stuff which can really make the conference a pain if it doesn’t work.
The food was A-MA-ZING! Be it the nachos and popcorn at the cinemaxx or all of the food at the social event – it was nothing I expected, quite frankly. Some of my foodie highlights were the sea-salmon burgers, the currywurst wagon and the ready-prepared salad bar. Knowing three speakers (and their special treatment regarding beer coupons), there were always enough coupons to get drinks that night. The Hühnerposten was a very nice location as well and it needed some discipline to end the evening and return to the hotel to be fresh again for the next day.
Now to some of my favourite sessions
The elasticsearch. talks (, ) were all very well prepared and had some nice uses-cases and demos to make you immediately want to try out some of the features, new and old. Also, it is always nice to compare that to the Google Search Appliance stuff that we are also very fond of at twt.de. Competition keeps you honest, I guess 😉
I also really liked the Neo4j talk. I am looking forward to version 2.0 now as some of the features will really drive the product forward. And who knows, maybe there are projects on the horizon someday. Graph-databases will definitely be relevant in the future and Neo4j does have some compelling features there.
I was a bit irked about the Zend Framework 2 session, but that might stem from the fact, that most of the best-practices seem like common sense to me and that I keep up with ZF2 use-cases for our projects anyway. Some nuggets of wisdom were to be found nonetheless, albeit very small ones 😉
And two more „meta“ kind of talks were also really entertaining: Judiths „Retrospektiven“ and Dr. Johannes Mainuschs „be nerd„, full of crazy ideas and pencil drawings with a big dose of real life bullshit bingo.
Three is Company
Last but not least it was great to see all the friends and colleagues and talk about the sessions. It’s always good to discuss matters further and go deeper with the subject at hand. Being able to do that in a constructive setting is best. And although it was an exhausting trip, I never regretted taking it with Lars and Jaume 😉