WeAreDevelopers 2019 Berlin – The Good and the Bad parts

Reading Time: 7 minutes

You can find my expectations here. And here are my actual impressions:

Arrival

The conference took place on the 6th and 7th of June at the CityCube in Berlin. The CityCube is an exhibition site which is located roughly 10km from Berlin centre. My hotel was in Berlin-Charlottenburg, which is a nice area located just 2 stations from the exhibition site.

I arrived late on the 5th of June. Having not really planned my attendance I wanted to check the usual suspects (eg the web page) for more information. But wait. There is an app for that right? And there was. After downloading the app from the Appstore, I quickly set up an account and was ready to take a look. Overall the app was solid (with some bugs or undesired features; later more on that). I found the activity stream pretty useful. The activity stream is like a chatroom where attendees can exchange thoughts. After reading a little bit, I was able to gather most of the important info and got a little bit hyped by the people in the room. There was also an agenda section in the app which I could browse either by date and time or speakers. Each talk or workshop had a brief description. Each talk could also be added to a favourites section which was nice. In that way, I gathered rather quick my favourites and after going through them again by time and eliminating the less interesting ones I was ready for the first day.

Pro-Tip 1: A calendar or timeline section in the app where one could view one’s favourites would be nice. In that way, intersecting talks could be easily spotted.

Day 1

I arrived a little bit early at the venue because in the chatroom there were also some concerns about long queues. The weather was really nice, so I was not really worried to wait a little bit. But the fear of waiting for hours was not justified. There was enough stuff to take care of the attendees. I waited maybe 10 minutes. So all good.

Once I arrived at the main stage I also realized that there was more than enough space to accommodate everyone. With my schedule it went from here like this (Some of the talks I attended):

Welcome by WeAreDevelopers

The usual greetings and organizational stuff. It didn’t take so long so it was okayish. But already here I realized that the sound was really bad. Sitting somewhat in the middle you would get an echo. And that was without any other talks being held in parallel.

Pro-Tip 2: Please test the venues sound properties beforehand and adjust accordingly.

Where Machine Intelligence Ends and Human Creativity Begins – Garry Kasparov

As a starter, this talk was really good. Garry Kasparov is really a charismatic person. The main claim of Garry Kasparov is that eventually a huge amount of (non-creative) work will be replaced by AI. And there is nothing that we can do about it. His conclusion was that it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. We will have more time to do more important stuff.

Business vs Agile – Crimes against development teams continuously committed by management – Gerta Sheganaku

This one I chose based on the title. I was hoping for some entertaining session, actually against management (Sorry I’m a dev). The thing which I’ve got from the talk is that agile works best with top devs in an organization. For this group productivity and “happiness” increases. With diminishing skill set of the devs involved the gains of agile decreases and are even counterproductive in case of devs with decreasing skill set (I do not know how the skill set of devs was measured here and the productivity output either; it’s a company offering, so they have probably some empirical data on this). The fun story was that one consulted company consulted by this company fired almost all stuff based to rehire again for agile.

Lunch

Lunch was an epic disaster. Honestly, I thought lunch was included in the ticket price. It was not. There were around 5 food trucks with different types of food. So this was ok. The problem was that the capacity was way too low. You had to wait like 1 hour in full shining sun to get your food. After waiting for about 15 mins. I decided to go somewhere else to get some food. Doing so I discovered that the part of the CityCube the conference was held in was about 15 min away from the nearest restaurants. Ok, that’s another minus. (PS There was a massive rant about this in the app. Even some invited companies jumped in to deliver some food and free water. Shame, shame, shame…)

Pro-Tip 3: You know how many people will attend. Throughput of the trucks should also be known. Calculate with the worst case.

The Quake Postmortem: The End of the Original Id – John Romero

Yes, this John Romero. The talk was about people, growth, success and the price paid. Romero pictured a small company which was overwhelmed by its “astonishing” success. In the beginning, there is a passion but with success there comes the appetite for larger games and one have to scale. In the end, it’s not about fun anymore. Delivering is what counts. This reflects on the team.

Flutter – Google’s latest innovation for mobile, web, and desktop apps

It was nice. But we have SwiftUI now. Thank you.

Pro-Tip 4: When designing the app, please think about people on a mobile data plan. Scale down pictures posted in the chat (I had like 400MB data usage by the end of the day). 

Day 2

Once in my hotel room I quickly set up my schedule for the last day (Here some of it):

Thoughts on the Future of Programmable Money – Andreas M. Antonopoulos

This talk was epic. Andreas drew a coherent picture of what is wrong with the mindset of closed ecosystems. Starting with castle walls and getting to modern times firewalls was a nice analogy to draw. Eventually we “outgrew” castle walls/castles. Will we be able to break out of closed systems? Andreas has no doubt about it.

25 Years of PHP – Rasmus Lerdorf

I’m not a PHP dev but I wanted to hear the inventor of PHP talk about this un-opinionated language. So Mr Lerdorf is a nice, near to the ground guy. He explained very well that PHP was developed out of necessity. The desire to have a “simple layer” over CGI/C to write programs faster and more readable.

2nd day the lunch situation didn’t really change. There were water and free beer though.

Conclusion

I’m pretty undecided if I would visit this conference again. The speakers were really great but the organisation was seriously lacking.

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