Devoxx Belgium: an entire world of IT knowledge

28 November 2016
Jedrzej Osinski
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In case you didn’t know, Devoxx is the largest Java community conference in the world.  This month a team of Cognifide coders became Devoxxians for a couple of days, attending the massive Belgium conference held in Antwerp. We found ourselves among 3,500 fellow Java fans from over 40 countries, all  ready to share their thoughts, knowledge, skills and passion.

This year the conference took place in the Kinepolis cinema rooms where delegates were divided into nine tracks reflecting the current trends and themes in IT main streams: programming languages, big data, Future<Devoxx>, methodology & architecture, Java language, server side Java, modern web, mobile & embedded, and finally cloud, containers and infrastructure.

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You only need to to look at these topics to realise that Devoxx is an entire world of knowledge, tools and fresh ideas. It was really interesting to see the sheer number of web-related topics, clearly proving that web is indeed not dead!  As Cognifide, we focused on digital marketing acceleration, a huge theme for us currently.  We got to talk to IT world leaders during booth presentations, check out the latest tools, put them to the test and even suggest some improvements.

Artificial Intelligence at Devoxx

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For those of you who have read my previous blogs, you’ll know that I’m an AI obsessive.  So I was incredibly excited to take to the stage to talk about, yes, you guessed it, -  Artificial Intelligence - the (near) future of software development. For those of you that are interested to find out more, you can watch a video of the presentation here. It was great to hear  the words artificial intelligence and machine/deep learning on so many Devoxxian lips.  Hearing my own words repeated by the representatives of some of the IT world’s giants was pretty exciting too.

Making Code Suck Less

In fact, all of the talks that we attended were hugely inspiring. One favourite was the amusingly titled, Twelve Ways to Make Code Suck Less, delivered by Dr. Venkat Subramaniam.  It focused on the 12 most important tips to ensure that your code looks better, is more maintainable and generally better quality. His top tip on reducing state and state mutation coincidentally corresponds to the stateless nature of a project that one of our team is  currently working on.

Are your patterns ready for lambdas?

We can all agree that a good developer should know and use coding standards and best practices, which includes (but is not limited to) the understanding and usage of design patterns. Design patterns are basically well tested and documented approaches to common programming problems allowing the developer to focus on what’s really important instead of reinventing the wheel over and over again.

But with the fast pace of development of modern programming languages one must continually evolve to keep up with the latest technologies. In his live programming session, g ∘ f patterns, Mario Fusco tackled classic design patterns with a fresh, functional and lambda based approach and, I must admit, it was slick. Want to know more? Take a look.  

Outside of the conference, Antwerp is a great city.  A highlight, apart from the XIVth century Cathedral, are the fries.  I tested them with enthusiasm and can highly recommend them.  We did find the presence of heavily armed security slightly unnerving and a rather unpleasant reminder of Belgium’s recent tragedies.  But Devoxx proved that the thirst for knowledge and the need to share experiences will bring people together despite the threats.  And people from all over the world will return to their companies, apply newly-learned solutions and continue to change the world.  

Our top tip?  Prepare for Java 9 (and adapt to Java 8 quickly if you haven’t done so far).

And that’s it from this year’s Devoxx Belgium.  If you want to keep up to speed on artificial intelligence, follow my Twitter feed @dr_hawaii.