Devoxx 2015 Belgium: Retrospective & Video Recommendations

First of all, a few words from a first-time-Devoxxian to those who don’t know the conference: founded in 2001 in Antwerp, it is now one of the largest community-driven (though sponsored) conferences with spin-offs across the world. It is always sold out and has a really nice atmosphere that really thrives on its venue: a super-modern cinema with huge screens and extremely comfy seats.

I attended the whole week (two „university“ days and three conference days) and I will just pick out a few talks which were especially interesting and/or entertaining.

Right now, the keynote is not (yet?) up on YouTube, but I hope they will make it available, too. Especially the part of guest speaker Lawrence M. Krauss: He is a theoretical physicist and cosmologist and gave a short overview over the history of the universe. Very inspiring and entertaining—not software-related, but a good watch nonetheless!

Update: Here is the video of the keynote part – unfortunately only the slides, so you might miss out on some of the jokes.

Now for the sessions:

Powerful Metaprogramming Techniques With Groovy by Jeff Brown

Groovy is my favorite non-Java language on the JVM and this talk is about one of the reasons for that. Jeff, a core developer of Grails (the Groovy web framework), delivers a deep dive into the metaprogramming features of Groovy. That’s the ability to modify the behavior of the code both at runtime and at compile time and how to influence and take advantage of this. An example is the possibility to call non-existent methods on objects and handle this dynamically at runtime. This way you can call easily understandable methods for DB operations (e.g. „Books.findAllByAuthor(‚Thomas Mann‘)“). A lot of information and demos from a good source! (2:04h)

Spring Boot for the Web Tier by Brian Clozel & Stéphane Nicoll

Basically an introduction into Spring Boot with a special focus on the features for web application development. The presenters are both committers of the Spring framework and Spring Boot and deliver first-hand explanations for it.

This is a completely hands-on talk with no boring slides but loads of real coding (and only a little copy & paste). There is not only a lot of information about Spring Boot itself, but also a lot to learn on the way about the tooling and the workflow. If you are thinking about giving Spring Boot a spin, this talk is highly recommended. (2:24h)

Core Design Principles for Software Developers by Venkat Subramaniam

Venkat is one of the most lively and entertaining speakers of the conference. All top three voted talks are from him! He talks about the essence of his very long career in the business when it comes to the basic principles of software design. He gives a lot of examples and spices up his elaborations with great anecdotes. Although most of the principles are (hopefully) not new to a reflective and quality-conscious developer, this session is a good reminder—and it’s very entertaining, too! (2:36h)

Principles Of Microservices by Sam Newman

An introduction to microservices by Sam Newman who is a colleague of Martin Fowler at ThoughtWorks and the author of „Building Microservices“. The talk is well structured and gives a nice overview over the fundamental principles of microservices.

Get Hip with JHipster: Spring Boot + AngularJS + Bootstrap by Matt Raible

An not-so-serious but still very informative presentation about what JHipster can do for rapid web development. This is mostly live coding from the ground up, also showing where one could start with customizations. Matt shows how simple and fast it can be to create a straight-forward web application using scaffolding, even pushing it into some cloud infrastructure in the end.

Although the long term consequences of this approach should be well considered, it is inspiring how fast it gets you up to speed. (0:56h)

Knowledge is Power: Getting out of trouble by understanding Git by Steve Smith

If that doesn't fix it, git.txt contains the phone number of a friend of mine who understands git. Just wait through a few minutes of 'It's really pretty simple, just think of branches as...' and eventually you'll learn the commands that will fix everything.

A really nice introduction into the underlying principles of Git in a very understandable way. If you feel like XKCD summarized it in the comic above, then you should definitely watch this presentation.

Commits, branches, tags, merges—everything is demystified. Steve even explains the files in the .git directory in a manner that they cease to look like black magic written in hex code! Plus you get some tips and tricks when you messed up that git revert again. (0:46h)

4 JVM Web Frameworks in 40 Minutes by Joe Kutner

Joe gives a broad overview and a partly subjective comparison of four web frameworks which are all based on different JVM languages:

  • play (Scala)
  • Ratpack (Groovy)
  • Rails (JRuby)
  • luminus (Clojure)

He quickly demoes all of them to give an impression of how they feel and what their essentials are. The direct comparison and his view on the strengths and weaknesses gives a good starting point if you don’t know these frameworks, but want to decide which one deserves a closer look. (58:38)

All Videos from Devoxx 2015 can be found on the official YouTube account.

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