QCon San Francisco 2008: Day one

Posted on November 20, 2008. Filed under: QCon 2008 |

At the moment, I’m visiting QCon 2008 in San Francisco, to learn more about effective design, Agile processes and DSL’s. Today, on day one, the two first topics were touched: effective design and Agile processes.

Too jump to conclusions: day one was a bit of a disappointment. Unfortunately, I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. The quality of each session could be expressed by dropping a colored note in a basket at the end of each session. The colors were green, yellow, red, which respectivly meant great!, okay, and not good. I’ll use this convention in my blog entry.

I’ve visited the following sessions:

How to Build Any Team any Time, by Christopher Avery
Really nice presentation about aspects of normal work, like teamwork, responsibility and blame. A nice and simple exercise to get the audience a bit loose, and some nice insights in the way power works. Also some great book tips, for example: “The faces of power”, by Kenneth Boulding. A well deserved green card, but unfortunately the best presentation I saw during the day.

Qualities of great code, by Marcel Molina Jr
What can I say about this session? At the start of the session, the room was full. Halfway, at least a quarter of the attendees had left, and at the end, more than half of the attendees had left the presentation. This was also reflected in the rating of the session: more red than yellow, and I saw no green.
I was such a shame this presentation was so bad received, since the topic is Great/Clean code is interesting enough to write a whole series of books about. It was therefor a bit of a disappointment that during the complete presentation, not a single piece of code was shown, and most things that were discussed were ‘Ruby is so great, but tell me audience, how can a programming language be even better’. The audience was surprised. At least I was. Sorry Marcel, I think you can do a whole lot better than this!

Responsive Design, by Kent Beck
I felt a bit disappointed by this one. Sorry Kent, but I expected way more than this, but I’m sorry for putting a red note in the basket. It really wasn’t that bad, it’s just that I expected much more of it. My idea was that most things told were an open door. Stepping stones, drilling down to the simplest solution: that’s the thing I try to do (almost?) all of the time! My mind doesn’t work when trying to solve a million piece puzzle, but I have no problem with connecting 2 pieces of puzzle a million times. So I totally agree with you on your approach, but I guess I expected something else here. But I like the idea of keeping track of all design choices which you’d have done differently. I might try it out!

10 Ways to improve your Code, by Neal Ford
Another one which disappointed me a bit. The outline of the presentation described that “Everything in this talk may not be new to you, but I guarantee that you’ll see some things that will make you reevaluate the way you think about your code.”. Well, Neal started with tip 1: extract method, to create readable code, prevent duplication and let the code be the documentation. Well, I already knew that one and apply it almost everywhere. Another tip: Use Findbugs. Hmm, well, isn’t that standard? Another tip: don’t use Singletons. I thought we stopped using that since 2001? I can’t make any remarks about the other 5 tips, since we left after that, but I encountered this list which has the rest of the tips. They look more interesting than the first 5 tips, but like I started this paragraph: I expected more!

So, like said before: day one was a bit of a disappointment. The conference itself is great and all, but unfortunately I choose the wrong subjects. Well, I hope tomorrow will be much better. DSL’s, here we come!

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One Response to “QCon San Francisco 2008: Day one”

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I found Christopher Avery’s Leadership and Responsibility Redefined blog as well as the slides [PDF] from his presentation.


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