What We Learned At WeAreDevelopers 2018
WeAreDevelopers is one of the biggest development conferences in Europe and the Anyline team is lucky to have it right on our doorstep. Last year, we sent our dev team to check it out and they came back to tell us their biggest takeaways.
The entire dev team was once again in attendance and they’ve returned to Anyline HQ with the latest knowhow on how to be the best developer possible. Whether working on their own or as a team, here are the most important insights they picked up. Check them out and see how many of these practices you’re integrating in your team!
Daniel Albertini – Anyline CTO and Founder
I was impressed by the talk from Nicolas Haunold. He was one of the first jailbreakers in the iOS developer community. He started when he was just 14.
I also had to jailbreak my first iPhone in 2008 and was always impressed that a bunch of people could exploit the iOS releases in such a short time. Now that I know that one of the guys was only 14, I’m even more impressed. I think it shows how far you can get with a small team that’s passionate about their work.
I always felt that the jailbreak community were able to imagine the impact and future of smartphones a lot earlier than even Apple or Google. A lot of features that are now state-of-the-art were first developed by the jailbreak community.
Hanna Huber – Developer
I really liked that the talks covered a diverse range of topics. Although not all subjects were addressed in depth, different aspects of being a developer were considered. There were technical talks about web development and automated driving, but also working environment, how to be a good team and mental health.
I particularly enjoyed the talk “Habits of Efficient Developers” given by Daniel Lebrero. It was entertaining, but also had a lot of truth in it. Daniel mentioned many habits which are obviously a good idea to adopt and yet, we still don’t always manage to live by them. A quote that I still remember is, “The definition of multitasking is screwing up several things at once”.
Jonas Laux – Developer
One of my highlights of the whole conference was seeing Max Stoiber speaking on the big stage about styled components (which is a great library). He is a frontend React developer from Vienna and inspired me a few years ago to give React a try.
Another highlight was Uri Goldshtein from Urigo, who explained the dataflow of his data structure with GraphQL subscriptions. This really gave me a new understanding in what GraphQL is capable of. Very inspiring.
But, I have to admit, the talk I was most excited about was the one from John Romero, who talked about the struggle he went through while developing Doom. Very interesting and entertaining talk!
David Dengg – Developer and Founder
I really liked the talk about being an efficient programmer. I think he touched on a lot of important points. Having a distraction free working environment is a key element in being efficient. This talk even made me disable the badge icons from mail.app.
Building tools that do the work for you is another way to be efficient. He mentioned that you can experiment with new languages that way or just build up new knowledge too. It was nice to see somebody on stage remind us all that we should automate our workflows more often. Bash is a great tool for that. The powerful simplicity of bash scripts is itself a reminder of how good and efficient software should be built.
Overall it was a talk worth listening too and to think back on from time to time.
Clemens Mueller – Technical Project Manager
The most impressive talk to me was given by Beat Bühlmann, General Manager EMEA of Evernote.
Data doubles every 14 months right now. A typical knowledge worker spends 2.5 hour per day searching for the right information. When you see this number (which is around ⅓ of your work day), you realize that new techniques are necessary to find and prepare information faster. Additionally, a typical knowledge worker spends 80% of work time on communication – meetings, emails, chat, etc. However, the even more astonishing number is that during work, a knowledge worker has a maximum of 5 minutes between interruptions.
These last two facts combined show that creating deep work, where one can focus on one task, is a challenge nowadays.
The ability to create environments where employees can perform focused and productive work is therefore more important than ever. Such an environment will result in happier and more focused knowledge workers and therefore better products with shorter development cycles.
Peter Sperl – Developer
I had a few favorites this year at WAD: First of all, the development of Doom by John Romero really showed how different game development was 20 years ago – no versioning, just floppy disks, and with such limited resources, ID software was incredibly innovative and basically “invented” a new game genre.
Steve Wozniak’s talk was also very inspiring, very similar to John Romero, both people seem to be really humble (not out for the money!) and really love what they’re doing. They both managed to create something from nothing by putting their ideas into action and working 16 hours a day on their hobby.
I also liked the talk from Hermann Hauser about the comparison between human and machine (AI). He also talked about a new type of processor (IPU) and I’m really looking forward to how it will change our machine learning future.
Last but not least, the talk about recommendation systems using natural language processing was really great. The speaker explained the concepts really well and put them all together in a live demo with jupyter, demonstrating the advantages of their approach.
Aniello Patrone – Computer Vision Engineer
I was impressed by the talks of John Romero and Liad Magen. The first one was about the creation of the video game Doom. It’s impressive to realize that only 5 developers developed one of the most successful video game of the last 25 years. Moreover, I liked that Romero appeared to be a super nice and down to earth person. It was inspiring to realize that a good group can obtain great results.
Another talk I enjoyed came from Mr. Magen. He introduced us to different ways to keep ourselves updated on machine and deep learning topics. Moreover, they created software that’s able to filter scientific articles regarding a particular topic. I got many interesting hints from this last talk.
Krisztina Orosz – Head of Product
As a Product Manager I was expecting that the talks would have been above my level of understanding, and I was right. However, the first day was more general, and gave insight into many things that were not only programming related, but also helpful to other types of areas or jobs that have a lot of contact with development.
I thoroughly enjoyed it. Over the next two days, the talks became more and more technical, which is good. It’s ultimately a conference for developers, however there was always at least one talk where someone like me could also benefit. I could even learn how to better work together with development in the future.
Martin Cerman – Developer
For me personally, the most interesting talk this year was definitely “Using Text Embedding Algorithms in Recommendation Systems” by Simon Stiebellehner from craftworks. They’re an Austrian company focusing on individualized solutions using machine learning and AI.
During his talk Simon gave us insight into the problem of a recommendation system, with a concrete example of a news website, that recommends new articles based on the interests and search history of a user.
He also explained how word2vec works, showed us a live example of how one would train it, and also discussed how the similarity between different embeddings can be computed for example using the cosine similarity measure.
Oh, and one interesting observation was, that the blockchain hype is huge. And I mean HUGE. The WeAreDevelopers mobile app allowed you to type questions for the speaker, which they would answer after their talk. During 90% of talks, you could see various (often times nonsensical) questions revolving around blockchain. One great example was after John Romero’s talk on the development of Doom, he received a question asking how one could incorporate the blockchain into games. After some of these questions I really felt like this:
Philipp Mueller – Developer
One of my favourite talks was “Stupid Enum Tricks” by Ellen Shapiro, who is an iOS and Android developer at Bakken & Bæck. She was using ENUMs for more than just plain string or int values. E.g. in Swift and Kotlin some logic like resource management (images, files, etc.) can be added directly to an ENUM to remove most of the hardcoded string values in the code and therefore improve the maintainability of a project. She presented some quality of life improvements which you can get from using ENUMs in a unconventional way.
Another very good talk was held by Timothy Holman, called “Generative Art Speedrun”. He was using small individual objects and shapes (like lines, curves, squares, etc.) combined with a small logic or algorithm (e.g. quadrants, displacement, random color, …) to generate impressive pieces of art on a blank canvas. He didn’t write complex algorithms or add manual work, it was only a combination of simple elements and some logic to generate “random” Art. (see the image below for some examples).
There also were a lot of Team 3.0 talks. They were talking about the team structure, daily standups, trust between the team members and within the team, autonomy, … – the most interesting part to see was, that the development team of Anyline has most of the suggested methods already implemented, so this pushed my team feeling / commitment even more!
Alexandra Cota – Integration Engineer
The most memorable insights for me were from the inspiring and entertaining talk given by Joel Spolsky, co-founder of Stack Overflow (among other companies) and current CEO of the Stack Exchange Network.
Stack Overflow saves developers incredible amounts of time when running into issues. Top user Jon Skeet’s answers alone have helped developers worldwide an estimated 237 million times! A question asked right will receive an answer that isn’t only useful to one person, but potentially to thousands. It just goes to show how powerful well documented and carefully curated information can be. There is a truly unique knowledge sharing culture within the developer community and this is a great enabler for the astonishingly high speed at which the field progresses.
Joel also made a great point about the importance of attitude (on stackoverflow.com and beyond) of senior developers towards developers just starting out. Even when answering a question, a harsh answer or an “ah, that’s easy” can be quite discouraging especially when you’re in the beginning and being mindful about this can really make a difference.
Lorena Krocos – Developer
I liked all the talks at WeAreDevelopers 2018 because they gave us an overview about different topics from the huge area of IT, but I had a few which I really loved.
One of them was the last talk given by Joel Spolsky, where he mentioned that the right answer to a question isn’t just useful for one person, but for thousands. It motivated me to answer more questions when I know the answer and to be a bit more active from this point of view. If I found an answer to a question I searched for, but I know the right answer for a question someone is looking for, why shouldn’t I answer?
“Your Brain Does Not Have a Fixed Flag” by Sara Viera was another one of my favourites. It was about her life, anxiety and depression which are nowadays huge problems in our work and world in general. It’s really important to feel that you’re integrated in your team, that you’re appreciated for the work you’re doing, not only in your workplace but also in society. If you see a person is smiling all the time don’t think that person has no problems. Some of them are the most depressed and anxious people you can meet. So, when you see someone sad or you notice something is not OK with a person, a simple question like “Are you OK?” might help more than you think.
That’s All Folks!
WeAreDevelopers 2018 was a great conference with speakers that appealed to developers of all backgrounds. We had an awesome time there and met a lot of interesting people too. We’re already looking forward to next year’s conference and the year of development that will inform next year’s speakers and attendees!
QUESTIONS? LET US KNOW!
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