Archive for the ‘conferences’ Category
Thank you for a exemplary conference experience at Monki Gras during a chilly and bright London January. You went deep on the craft theme and I think that resonated strongly with everyone there, because those people who were there loved and cared so much about what they do. That was the first thing that set it apart from ‘regular’ conferences.
Also there was beer, but not a surreptitious beer, not a beer that was pale and fizzy and gullished without pleasure by braying middle managers with grotesquely tumescent bellies and swollen man-boobs. This was a first-class beer that was knitted into the fabric of the conference and reflected the craft theme, that an attendee could openly savour in company in the noonday without fear of a judgement of functional alcoholism (to borrow a phrase from @jasonh). This was another welcome distancing from the mainstream, albeit I thought I had been mugged after checking my wallet post the Craft Beer Co. experience – though is the welcome price we pay for quality.
At this moment, in an echo of the event itself, I am writing this letter, drinking a craft pale ale in a craft beer pub that has newly opened across the road from my office, a whole 45 metres away from my desk. I feel that these echoes will continue to reverberate, perhaps to the detriment of my deadlines.
Let us return to the conference.
The food, made fresh in front of our eyes, the specially roasted coffee, the baskets of fucking fruit, all spoke to a care of consumption that really is usually ignored in favour of cost in our modern lives. Care and attention, @monkchips, care and attention to the smallest detail makes the picture whole and perfect.
In your carefully crafted environment, who could not be in a positive frame of mind, content and happy to be open and honest with their neighbor, even though they may be a temporary stranger? This brought the best out in the already well-qualified and excellent speakers, brought out the humour, brought out the honest expression normally present among a group of friends rather than between a conference speaker and conference attendees. I cannot speak for others – but forty minutes into the first day I was in the front row wishing I was up there giving a talk. What a crowd!
And your conference was filled with wonders – the .gov.uk affair was heart-stopping in its implications and amazing in the fact that it actually happened; – the data pretties entranced us and were in a second breath laid bare as shams if presented without context; – kittehs masqueraded, unchecked, as chikins; – the bombshell that companies get the UX they deserve was dropped; – machines with software that killed people were wheeled out; – the dysfunctions of technology executives were outed without ceremony; – the list could go on, if it weren’t for the line drawn under it by that 9.5 ABV beer, the name of which escapes me entirely.
This letter has just about reached its limit. Let me finish by mentioning that most important aspect of conference-going – personal relevance. I’m a technical co-founder, and my work life is trisected equally into states of euphoria, all-consuming flow and cold panic. At your conference, listening to the experiences and the judgements of those who have treaded this route before, I experienced an enormous feeling of validation – that I haven’t chosen the wrong technology stack; – that I’m not totally crazy for attempting to do what I am doing; – that these people have tried and succeeded and are not that different to me after all: and for that, especially that, I thank you and your team.
all the best
p.s also – phone is teh awesome 🙂
EclipseCon 2011 started today, with an awesome program of events going on over the week. I’ve attended the previous four instances of the conference, and had the signal honour to have been the Program Chair for EclipseCon 2010. Now, alas, I’ve lapsed. Instead of getting a nice easy job after my release from Progress last year, I’ve foolishly decided to startup a software business with a couple of guys. I hope this adequately explains my somatic non-presence at this years showcase of what’s wonderful in the Eclipse world. For example – if I was in California today, I would not have been able to load the mobile part of our product on the phone of a friend-of-a-friend who just happens to be attending a concert with the CEO of a division of a large cellphone company, with instructions to show it to this CEO and get a meeting for us. But if I was in California today, I would be enjoying beers with lots of people that are much smarter and much more dedicated than me.
It’s always a tradeoff.
Now that I have a brand new ‘user’ perspective, and am on the outside looking in, there are a few items within the Eclipse Ecosystem that are particularly interesting.
- EGit – I’m using git exclusively now for source code control, and having good support is very important. I think that the real decision-maker on using git all the time are hosting services like Heroku and Nodester adopting git push workflows for application deployment.
- DSL-based mobile device project scaffolding – projects like Applause and Applitude, both based on Xtext and mobl, based on Spoofax, can give you a chunk of starting point code to get your mobile application up and running on the cheap. I haven’t taken as much time to study these as I want to – a future blog entry I think.
- Orion – when I first saw the Bespin project, which then merged with Ace and is now the development-as-a-service Cloud9 IDE, it failed to stir me. However, when I started doing some node.js project experiments, then the option of being able to edit your JS code through the browser suddenly had more appeal, precisely because now you can edit server code. It will be worth a blog entry in its own right at some point (aside – Mr. Orion, @bokowski, just linked to another one, Akshell, a minute ago)
I just realized the other day that the last piece of Java/Eclipse a programming I did was in July 2010. Since then I’ve been in this dual world of the mobile app developer – programming
native code on iOS devices, programming Rails 3 and node.js on the server end of things, pushing data into PostGIS and Redis. I didn’t think I would end up here, but it’s been fun so far 🙂 As to the future, I’ve refused to plan anything beyond world domination for the moment. But maybe I can get an Orion talk accepted for EclipseCon Europe…
Eclipse ESE 2010 w00t!
Eclipse ESE 2010 starts tomorrow, and I’m going to be there – well, I’ll be there from Wednesday to Friday. I’m delighted, because I had written it off this year, having had to dramatically scale down my Eclipse community involvement. But with the help of Herr Program Chair Bernd, and cheap Eurozone flights, I’ll be helping whip the room into shape in the Build Systems Exposed: Strengths & Weaknesses of Build Technologies at Eclipse panel discussion. Present will be the usual suspects, Henrik “Buck” Lindberg, Jason “Tycho” van Zyl and Nick “Athena” Boldt. Unfortunately, the fourth stooge, Dave “Agile” Carver, is being held incommunicado by his cats and can’t make it. The point of the session is to help you, the attendee Eclipse developer, to get your brain-gear about how to make your projects build, get tested and get packaged. Questions are very important in this regard. Bring ’em.
For myself, I’m too long in the tooth and cynical to insist that there is one true path here, that one of the approaches is the best in all cases. I’ve been in Enterprise Software for the last 17 years, you see. In any case you have to do your own research as to what will work for you – I want you to consider this as school homework. No-one is going to do your assignment for you, because every project is different, and frankly, you need to learn how this stuff works or else you will be doomed next time around. Put it into the schedule.
Maybe that came across a little cranky. I’ve been on both sides of the issue and neither is comfortable, but I think you do have to learn it yourself for the knowledge to stick, so you can maintain it. However, that doesn’t mean I think everyone needs to start from scratch – there’s a base level of mechanics that can be given as an exemplar from which people can extrapolate. Lots of examples exist for this particular sphere of issues, so what I would really like to see would be The Eclipse Ultimate Guide To Building Eclipse By Example, which would take N types of Eclipse project and for each one show the M different ways to build it. A way to kick off would be to take Wayne’s article on building Woolsey with Tycho and do a similar one on building Woolsey with Buckminster (or Athena).
In any case, looking forward to getting there and reminding myself how good German beer can be!
Eclipse STP News
The Eclipse SOA top-level project is now up and running pretty much completely, and with that the merge of the Swordfish and the projects contained by the Eclipse STP top-level project is complete. More than complete, in fact, with the addition of the eBPM, eBAM and Java Workflow Tooling projects, there’s a comprehensive and diverse range of solutions available. Now, there is merely tidying up to do, and the remaining strands of connective tissue (build, web, etc) that kept those projects in place in STP needs to be removed. With this message to the STP and SOA PMCs I’ve initiated that process. Congrats to all projects on their move to Eclipse SOA and best of luck to the combined Tools + Runtime top-level project!
The ISA-Skillnet folks have set up a rare local opportunity for people to get some insights into the world of OSGi on Thursday this week (9th September) at the IBEC offices on Lower Baggot St. The inimitable Ian Bull, the lead for the Eclipse Zest visualization toolkit and an Equinox p2 committer will be doing the pitch. Ian knows his onions when it comes to this material and if you are looking for a solid explanation of why OSGi exists, what it does and how you can use it to structure your Java development and enforce runtime component isolation, you should get your carcass over to this talk, which is free to anyone who works for an Software Skillnet member company – list of members here (PDF link). You could get your company to join up, or just email them an ask about individual access.
Here’s the announcement: http://www.isa-skillnet.com/Training_Courses/88#ss162. The show starts at 1745.
At last, after a belated spring has sprung, and the local flora are finally catching up with their deadlines, we have the usual Epicenter Early Bird Closing date heaving into view. Well – it’s more already sitting on your lap, since today is the last Early Bird registration day. Run, don’t walk, to the tickets page.
Epicenter is in its second year and is well on the way to being Ireland’s top software conference. Good news for the local islanders – no jousting with ash clouds or having to urinate into a bottle on a Ryanair flight because you haven’t got change for the toilets! The conference is your typical multi-zone, multi-track affair, with each day focussed on a different technology or industry subject. Check out the website at epicenter.ie, scroll down the page for information on the speakers and talks.
There’s a good selection of speakers – Jeff Genender will be speaking, as will Eugene Ciurana – both well-known Open Source stalwarts. Matt Raible will join them, as will Eclipse Ecosystem buddy Doug Clarke. I’ve heard that the ever-Groovy Guillaume Laforge will be making an appearance too, but I can’t find his name on the website. Maybe I wasn’t meant to write that down. Ooops.
Just in case you are reading this and would like to help out from a sponsorship aspect, there are all sorts of packages that start off at an accessible €200. You would think that even Enterprise Ireland and the IDA should be able to manage to find that much down the back of the sofa for one of the biggest software conferences held in the country 🙂
Since Epicenter is in June, I’ve half a mind to see if I can get some people together for an Eclipse Demo Camp maybe before or after the main event. Leave a comment if you would be interested in attending or presenting a demo.
I’m off to register now – hope to see you there!
In the aftermath of EclipseCon 2010, when the Program Committee got together to talk about the state of the show, one item that came up was the possible use of an Ignite-style format for presentations. The format is deliberately designed to reduce waffling and slide overloading by limiting presenters to a total of twenty slides and five minutes. That’s ok, but the key innovation is that each slide is shown for fifteen seconds and the presenter has no control over the transition. Now that’s pressure!
The greatest challenge for constructing EclipseCon 2010 content was the wide mismatch between the sheer volume of material that was submitted and the container for that content — the rooms and time slots. Take, for example, the Eclipse Modeling Project. This is a container project that has something in excess of sixty sub-projects. How on earth can each of those projects be given time to present in full? Even if only half of them were active, it would still be a tough deal, considering that Modeling is only one of the Eclipse top-level projects. In fact, the Modeling PMC did a great job by including a Modeling Runway talk, which gave twenty-odd projects three minutes to introduce themselves. Very Ignite-like.
So, for the purposes of research, I attended Ignite Dublin #4 last week at the Science Gallery, and I have come away a total fan of the format. Mind you, the diversity of the presentations was the real titillating bit – some examples: we had a photo-essay from a paraglider, and ambient soundscape performance, pedantry, fish stock history (yikes – we had them all eaten by 1870), comedy, legal knowledge and the demise of newspapers. Presenters included a cinematographer, a biologist, a couple of performance artists, film-makers, a neuroscientist, a designer, an environmental historian and a statistician. Beer and pizza was the icing on the cake, if you excuse the screwed up food metaphor.
It’s nearly time to return to our scheduled programming, but first a quick retrospective of EclipseCon 2010.
The danger with writing a retrospective like this is that it can rapidly become a screed of great proportions and hit everyone’s tl;dr button. So I’ll keep this short. What I am reporting here is my own experience plus feedback from both presenter and non-presented folk. I’ll keep the format of the previous articles to focus it.
This was a great success this year – better than years when there were half again as many attendees. My only regret was that I missed out on a teeshirt on the first day! Much appreciation to Kim Moir for, er, running with this.
The keynote from Oracle was a lacklustre affair – and watching some of the tweetage that was coming out from their panel later in the day, it’s no surprise since Oracle don’t appear to have decided what they are up to. Especially with the retention of three UIs – Eclipse, JDeveloper and Netbeans. Come budget time, the VP or whoever at the pointy end of controlling those three groups will have to get the hatchet out. Which will fall? JDeveloper is ensconced like a tick – parts of it are in core Oracle products (allegedly). I have to assume that the Netbeans team is larger than the Eclipse team, does that make them more likely to be kept? Of course, it won’t be that simple – perhaps the Netbeans Java tooling people could be transitioned to Eclipse to add more value to the JDT? Anyway, I’m sure we’ll be guessing for a while.
The NASA/JPL keynote from Jeff was a masterful performance – not only the content, which was bang on demographic for a crowd of developers and technophiles, but the structure and production values were excellent. I caught a couple of clips – here’s Jeff talking to David who is supervising the ATHLETE robot in the lab
and here is Jeff’s closing remarks with his Lego buddy Socrates
Robert “Uncle Bob” Martin (Roberto) presented the keynote on software professionalism and it too was excellent work, although on a totally different axis to Jeff’s. This man is a past master of the presentation style, fearless, emotive and ready to challenge his audience. Here’s some short extracts:
- agile is about destroying the hope that keeps stupid plans alive
- say no to all forms of bad code
- say no to dropping your disciplines
- say no to overtime – know your limits
- say no to meetings – when the meeting gets boring, leave
- say no to dumb restrictions on your development process
I think the talk unnerved some people (as evinced by -1’s in the red bucket), so good work Roberto!
I got a goodly amount of positive feedback that a tutorial-per-morning was a nice idea and something that people did look forward to. There was a bit of balancing feedback that some of the tutorials were somewhat disorganized, not fully prepared, had too many slides, didn’t have enough introductory information, or were missing required data. The Program Committee had a meeting on this and we have a couple of proposals to make sure that these kinds of issues won’t occur next year.
On balance, the 25-minute talks worked, I think. I had a lot of conference-goers saying that they were pleasantly surprised with the shorter format – they got a similar amount of information in a shorter time and could go to more talks. Most presenters stepped up to the plate and did a really good job on condensing their material and cut quickly to demos. Some didn’t and the talks were rushed and hassly. There were a couple of people who appeared to be personally upset about the timing – how on earth could you talk about anything in less than 35 minutes? They got my get over it lecture.
One the other hand, the 12-minute lightnings did not really work at all well this year compared to other years. I think it’s because so many speakers got instructed to cut from standard length to lightning and it was just too difficult to do. I’m thinking we might revisit that for next year.
Feedback was on the high side for good talks, however some donkeys were brought to light too.
The panels I went to were good. The quality of the moderation was tip-top, the preparation was good, and all were conducted in good humour and with great candour. Controversy can work well in a panel, but it appears that good, solid, experiential data works well too. Big shout out to Dave Carver for his innovative Jeopardy-style approach in moderating the Build and Continuous Integration Panel and use of “the Undead” as a question category 🙂
BoFs and Unconference
This year we seemed to be totally BoF-tastic, with a great amount of activity going on there, but the Unconference got little support. Lesson learned here – the crowd at the ‘Con are more interested in getting together in a social group for listen and learn rather than stepping up and doing their own off-piste talks.
Divers Alarums – being a gallimaufry of tatterdemalion conference qualia
- e4 Rover Programming Competition – wow, this was a runaway success and frankly will be hard to top. Huge kudos to the NASA guys, Ian, Boris and Ben
- EclipseCon Tweetup – informal meeting in the bar, always works for me 😉
- Don‘s sense of humour – “I’m stalling…and you’re all leaving…and now I’ve lost all credibility…”
- Sergey P’s phones – classic
- Giving us mugs instead of little rinky-dink cups for coffee – most essential
- The general buzz around the place since we were in a smaller area was great
Thanks to all…
Well it looks like this turned out to be a screed after all. I hope you enjoyed the conference. I’ll finished with thanks to many people that made the conference work – attendees, thank you for coming; presenters, thank you for presenting your work; keynoters, thank you for crafting your keynotes and delivering them to a tough crowd; program committee, thank you for the hard graft coming up to program announce date; Don, Anne, Gabe, Ian, Lynn, Mary, thank you for hard work in the logistics and outreach departments!