This past weekend I was able to attend DDD Sydney, an awesome non-profit inclusive developer conference. I had a great time catching up with some friends, make some new friends, and learn some new tech things that were outside of my periphery until this weekend. I always find myself reinvigorated after a conference, inspired by what other people outside of my own company are doing.

A few things I learned at DDD Sydney 2018

  • Learning to love the chaos of cross-team collaboration - this talk was particularly close to my heart at the moment, as I’ve been working on a real cross-functional project for the second time in recent months, bringing together driven front-end and back-end software engineers, product managers, and designers. One highlight from it was seeing several others value the ability to convey how you work to others. The concept of a “readme for working with me” style document seemed always a tad over the top to me (and I’ve argued against it in the past), but having seen a few around the place, I’m coming around to them. Everyone works differently, and everyone has different expectations of what they need to work effectively. You have an obligation to set those boundaries, as well as respect the boundaries and needs of others. I’ll be thinking about this more over the next few months, though don’t think I’ll write one for myself in the immediate future
  • The intro to Elixir talk was awesome - it seems like it’s taken the best parts of Haskell and melded them with an actual serve-ready language in the form of Erlang. Watching the idiomatic usage of pattern matching and pipe filters look so cool and I want to keep digging into it in the near future
  • Some ideas on how to make sure your team is comfortable with failure; this was actually off the back of a question I had asked from the “learning to love the chaos” speakers. You hear the term “safe to fail” bandied around a lot, but it’s worth examining what it really means, and how you implement a way to make people actually feel safe to fail. Essentially, it comes down to people leaders being able to respond effectively to failure scenarios (either individual or collective), make the most of a failed situation, acknowledging that there were multiple causes to failure and that none of them were personal but process failures. I was talking about this with a coworker after the conference, and they solidified this fact. It’s all about your team responds but especially about the leaders of your team.

The difference a year makes

DDD 2017 was actually my first ever conference, so it was interesting to reflect a little on how much I have learnt in the past year. I just sat down to expand on this, and looking at the agenda from last year and the bits I attended, it’s actually mind blowing how much I’ve learnt, how beneficial getting a bite-sized taster of these technology trends at a conference can be when it comes to adoption, and how much I’ve grown professional even in the past six months.

Furthermore, it was interesting to see how much has changed in the tech landscape over last year. At the time, a strong interest of mine was in building microservice UIs that integrate across multiple verticals on one page. A talk gave some best practices on how best to handle microservice UI composition. Nowadays, I’d just suggest not going too far in the direction of bounded context integration. If you must, try and keep core business logic segregated, have a shared design system to roll out common UI components, and let web components (or React) handle intercontext communications. Dumb modules similar to the “drop in” components provided by software vendors to put on your website are probably never going to be the solution for the web, and only offer a clunky compromise guaranteed to piss users off. Tailored experiences holistically planned will win out.

One thing I’ve noted that trended similarly across the two years was the presence of at least three artificial intelligence or machine learning focussed keynotes. It’s seemingly still taking software nerds’ minds by storm, and with good reason, but I find myself struggling to be overly interested in doing any of it myself. I wish I was more inspired by the world of AI and potential automation gains, but I find the most compelling life systems are the ones I build with my own personal heuristics.

Next up, Pycon 2018! 🎉