Sunday, March 16, 2008

No Fluff 2008 Conference Highlights

Another No Fluff conference has come and gone in Minneapolis. Fun, exhausting, and energizing, all at the same time. Thought I'd write up the highlights for anyone attending in the future.

Busy Java Developer's Guide to Scala Part One – Ted Neward

I wanted to attend this session ever since I heard a rumor about it at the Denver JUG... and it was one of my two must-see sessions. Strong typing, type inference, functional style, actor concurrency model, and pattern matching(sweet!). What's not to like? I've been putting off reading all the recent online tutorials until I saw this and wasn't disappointed. A must see.

Ancient Philosophers and Blowhard Jamborees – Neal Ford

I'll plug myself here and say I blogged about Aristotle's Metaphysics back in December. I approached the complexity issue at a language level, while Neal Ford talked about it at more of a system level. He also covered a lot of anti-patterns in a very funny, interesting way. Neal put a lot of time into making the slides and presentation amazing, resulting in a great, memorable keynote. Definitely stick around for this.

Transaction Design Patterns and Java Persistence – Mark Richards

These two sessions surprised me with the usefulness. It helps that we're coming up on some big decisions in this arena at my work. Comparing iBatis and Hibernate with live code demos revealed the sweet spots and pain-points of both frameworks. And looking at all the transaction management patterns made me realize just how naïve my past attempts at managing transactional code have been. These were great sessions for someone like me who hasn't touched Hibernate or JPA since Java 1.4 (you'd never guess from my resume!).

Gant – Andrew Glover

Ant works well enough, right? Uh, maybe not. I've always dismissed Gant as a tool for a problem I don't really have. Turns out I've wanted Gant all along. Plus, the integration with Ivy is slick. Just the idea of being able to step through my build script in my IDE debugger makes me happy. This is the session that I'll follow up on immediately Monday morning at work. But I kinda wish the session was called “Gant get enough of your love”. Hmm, maybe my Gant puns aren't any better than Andrew's.

Design Patterns in Dynamic Languages – Neal Ford

Having been a Groovy convert for a while now, it's nice to see a more advanced Groovy session. It's also nice to get some new ideas on places to use metaprogramming. Sure, it's the shiny new thing bound to be overused, but digging myself an unmaintainable hole of code is half the reason I learn new tricks in the first place. I'll leave the clean up to the maintenance programmers.

Why Can't Anyone Type on a Mac? - Everyone using a Mac

The only person whose live coding session wasn't riddled with typos was the guy using Windows. During lunch I investigated this further and found that everyone had normal sized fingers (with one hugely notable exception, you know who you are), so all this fat-fingering wasn't due to the presenters' physical features. Are Mac keyboards simply ergonomically bad? The crazy part of all this is that the guy using Windows was running it through Parallels on Mac hardware. The only explanation is that something about Mac OS is causing people to forget their typing skills. Can someone please explain this?

See you next year, so long, and thanks for the memories!


Peter Pascale said...

This is encouraging. We had talked about concerns of the content hovering around the novice/intro 'how to solve simple problems with x' end. Sounds like they managed to keep upping the ante, pushing the content further? This has always been a great conference for me. Bummed I missed it this year.

Hamlet D'Arcy said...

"Newbies go to conferences for the technical sessions. Seasoned veterans go to conferences for the people." - Billy Hollis (via Ted Neward's blog

One big reason I keep going back is that the whole conference process is both energizing and rejuvenating. Kind of like treating yourself for a spa day. Incidentally, the cost of the conference and the cost of a spa day are almost exactly the same!