O'Reilly Software Architecture New York - Conference Review


I always get drowned in work after returning from a conference, and forget blogging about it. This is the unfortunate reason for this post being the first of its kind on this blog. I promise it will not be the last, as in the past year and half I've spoken at a lot of great events that should be shared with our fellow tekkies.

If you've been to tech conferences lately, you might have noticed there are some topics that tend to repeat themselves. Almost all are tightly related to tools and tooling, and very few are aiming to address the techniques and thought process needed to set your project on the right track. Fortunately, there are is a conference out there that focuses on this very aspect: the path from problem to technical solutions.

This year I was fortunate enough to have been accepted as a speaker, showcasing our method of scaling applications starting from the content and working our way up to the application level. But more about it a bit later in this post.

Location

Conferences are excellent drivers of accelerated learning, as there are so many like-minded people surrounding you, willing to share their knowledge and experiences. And this year, Hilton Midtown was an excellently picked location to house all the tracks and allow idea sharing. With Central Park and Carnegie Hall right around the corner, it was very easy to disconnect for a couple of hours on my arrival day, and successfully fight the jet lag.

First Day

Speed networking was a great way to start the day. It was my first time, so I was a little overwhelmed, but I soon learned just how valuable that minute of introducing yourself to someone is. Met some great talk partners, and with most of them the talks expanded over the coming days.

The schedule was stuffed with so many talks I wanted to listen to, that I found it really hard to pick the ones to attend. Not only that, but the stress of my own talk soon added up, and only after I started talking the steam disappeared as if it never was there. Realising that content is the real business driver, and centering the technical solution around it is no easy mind shift for geeks, and I was very happy to hear immediately after my talk how some of the tools and processes we use can be quickly implemented with excellent ROI in other teams.

After all, treating content as code and using the devops processes is a low-hanging fruit that very few are taking advantage of. Slides are online and I will be happy to continue the conversation they open if you are interested.

The Architectural Katas

If you've never played architectural katas before, I wholeheartedly recommend this exercise. There were so many people wanting to attend and so few boards, that people were sprinting towards the boards, so I had to just watch teams solve their katas. The team had to supplement the boards to accomodate more willing participants!

Neal Ford's website hosts a few handy katas that you can randomly pick from, which is what also happened here. And of course one of the evening prizes went to the team supplying a solution without microservices. A lot of interesting approaches to the exposed problems, and nice tekkie jokes on the side. That's my idea of having geek fun!

In our next team building, we'll definitely work on some katas, as I noticed how good an exercise it is towards learning new approaches in a short amount of time.

The hallway track

As any conference attendee knows, the best talks happen on the hallway, and this time it was no different. If I had to name just one thing I particularly enjoyed about the Software Architecture NY edition, it would be the fact that most people did not have their mindsets tied around specific technologies. They were rather exploring the business area from novel perspectives, trying to find the right approach instead of the right tool. I found this very close to the way I work and think, and I particularly enjoyed the openness of all the people I interacted with during these three days.