On Thursday November 8, 2018 the biggest Java conference of the Netherlands took place: J-Fall 2018. This community conference is organized by the people of the Dutch Java User Group and welcomes over 1,500 developers for a day full of technical sessions, workshops and keynotes. Off course, the Code Nomads tribe needed to integrate with the Dutch-speaking developers and check out what J-Fall 2018 has to offer for us. So we took the train out of Amsterdam and headed towards the Pathe cinema in Ede. In this blog you’ll read about the sessions we visited, the people we met and the impressions we went home with. An overview of our opinions and highlights.
At a “normal” conference, the day starts at a decent time with a light session to start. But not at J-Fall J. At 08:00 the doors of the first “early bird sessions” opened and we were ready for some technical talks to wake us up.
Vasco: “It was a brief introduction to DDD and EventStorming, distilling the reasoning behind these methodologies and the way how they interconnect. The principles behind EventStorming were well explained, given the time, leaving the audience with enough information to investigate further. All in all a very good session.”
Pedro: “I think the idea behind this talk is definitely good: put all the stakeholders in a room and enforce the face to face communication. The speakers focused on why and how to do that, where they clarified it in a practical way. One thing that I missed here, is that the speakers could also present the daily challenges of the companies to use EventStorming and explain a little bit more about the pros and cons. But overall: a good start of the day.
Then it was time to get J-Fall 2018 really started. After a great drums act, cool teaser video and a word of welcome from MoC Bert Jan Schrijver, we were ready for an exciting day.
Traditionally, the first keynote is always for the main sponsor at J-Fall. This year, the Rabobank took the main sponsorship for J-Fall and they went all-in.
Ramon: “Rabobank came to J-Fall to show the Java developers in the Netherlands the true story behind their challenges, approaches and company culture. In my opinion, they did a great job to tell their story in an open and honest way in all their sessions. The keynote was a good example of that. Vincent Oostindie (the keynote speaker) told how things worked in the past and Rabobank and what went wrong while changing to their brand-new environment, based on Pivotal Cloud Foundry and Microsoft Azure. I really liked that it was not a marketing success story, but a brief overview of how all the development teams work.”
Vasco: “This keynote was well thought out and gave a clear explanation of how a public cloud can be used in a highly regulated industry such as banking. Everything has a downside, and this case is not an exception. The pitfalls found were explained and areas needing improvement were also identified. Good food for thought for enterprise architects and DevOps personnel.”
Ramon: “The second keynote was hosted by Quintor and started with a cool video about the recent changes in front-end technologies. However, contrary to the English title, the keynote was presented in Dutch… Real shame if you want to attract more international developers to your community, as NLJUG is trying too. After this keynotes, NLJUG host Bert Jan Schrijver took the stage again and shot T-shirts into the crowd with an airpressured gun: awesome!”
After the first keynotes it was time for a decent cup of coffee. Plenty of coffee available and even a nice birthday cake was handed out, since the NLJUG exists for 15 years (congratulations!!!). Time for the morning sessions.
Vasco: “Who’s the best speaker to give potentially boring advice in a way that is both entertaining, concise and extremely clear? Venkat Subramaniam, off course. Plenty of do’s and dont’s to go around about the (still) new field of functional programming techniques applied to Java (especially in what concerns the APIs available since Java 8). Valuable information for anyone taking code seriously.”
Pedro: “This was the best session I attended. Venkat is amazing: he can explain difficult stuff in a very clear way. Why and how to use functional programming, talk about bad and best practices and always being funny and captivating. At the end of the presentation you definitely ask yourself: why am I not doing that right now at my day-to-day work? Inspiring!”
Vasco: “A good introduction to how existing machine learning techniques can be used with ElasticSearch to rank search results. The theory behind neural networks was presented in a fast pace to give room to practical tips geared towards ElasticSearch users and the plugins they can use to leverage ML. Anyone working seriously with ElasticSearch left this session with valuable information to start investigating if ML makes sense in their applications.
Pedro: “Ray Tsang already visited our office last month for a workshop for Code Nomads, so I was looking forward to this one. For me, this was the most useful presentation, according to my daily work at the project at Carepay International. We are using Kubernetes a lot, so Knative (being a tool to encapsulate and abstract all the complexities that come up when you are using Kubernetes), is really useful. This tool we’ll probably start using very soon at my project. Insightful presentation.”
Ramon: “I’m always looking forward to the ignite sessions at J-Fall during lunch break. Grab some sandwiches real fast and run to Room 6. The ignite sessions are short, fast-paced and always huge fun. Every speaker has 5 minutes, where their 20 slides will be auto-forwarded every 15 seconds. Sounds easy to give a 5-minute talk, but preparing this well takes more than then preparing for a 45-minute technical session. And the first Ignite speaker showed that! Hanno Embregts has a reputation in this area. He made a combination between songs and code comments, brilliant. He was playing the guitar, while singing and the code was shown on the slides. Brilliant stuff that takes a lot of courage. More cool ignite talks about the fear of missing out, quantumcomputing bullshit, building a JavaFX game and the humor of the host Simon Maple.
Ramon: “The community keynote by Roy van Rijn was pretty excited. He deep dived into the deeper technologies behind quantum computing and took the audience with him on this journey. Even by explaining the working of a quantum computer with a skippyball, it was pretty mind-boggling for the audience as well to keep up…”
Vasco: “An interesting introduction to Kafka Streams was given before the workshop itself. In hindsight, the basic theory was there, but it would have been helpful to dive in the inner workings of Kafka Streams as well. Particularly regarding the way how messages are serialized and deserialized during stream processing. On the bright side, there was enough material on the exercises to keep newcomers to Kafka Streams busy during the whole 180 minutes. Overall a good workshop.”
Pedro: “At the moment I’m studying Kotlin at home. So why don’t learn some new stuff or even best practices with the amazing Venkat Subramaniam? Currently, Kotlin is one of the best programming languages, because the main idea behind it, is to combine all the best parts of other programming languages. It’s very close to the Java syntax, so it’s totally painless for Java developers to use, like myself.”
Ramon: “This was a fun session to attend, because you got 3 sessions in 1 timeslot ;) The speakers explained more about the way of working at Rabobank, again with an open and honest mindset. During the first 2 quickies there was a big wooden structure on the stage with a black curtain over it. Funny to see how badly you want to see a curtain removed. In the final quickie Tim Prijn and Egbert Pot finally did that and unveiled a cool DIY project. With a wooden frame and some lightning, they build a transparent whiteboard to record sessions, where they can explain the basic functionalities of their project to new team members. Presented with a lot of humor. Afterwards, everybody wanted to write something down on their whiteboard 2.0.
Pedro: “As a Brazilian I attended some workshops and conferences in Brazil and from May of this year I’ve been attending also really incredible conferences here in Netherlands. I can definitely say that J-Fall was the best conference that I’ve ever experienced so far.The organization and the location were perfect. Big and comfortable presentation rooms, awesome speakers and really good food and drinks.”
Ramon: “The people behind J-Fall outdid themselves once more: this event was even better than the previous one! Hard to keep the level this high and organize a better J-fall next year. Once again, it was a great conference with good content, inspiring speakers and lot of familiar faces in the audience and on the exhibition floor. Best one-day conference in the world!”
All sessions of J-Fall are recorded on available on the Youtube channel of NLJUG