AT&T ARO in Sweden
Last week, I travelled to Malmö, Sweden to attend Øredev and give a presentation on mobile application performance. Øredev is the premier developer conference in Sweden, and the event had excellent representation from around all of Western Europe.
In order to promote camaraderie amongst the speakers, the conference organizers organized a unique Scandinavian experience before the conference opened. All of the speakers were invited to a sauna and dip in the Øresund (the sound between Sweden and Denmark and the namesake of the conference). There is likely no better way to bond with a group of strangers than to spend an hour in a 90⁰ C (that’s 195⁰F to us Americans!) sauna and then jumping into the cold water. If you ever get the opportunity to try a sauna and cold bath, I recommend that you try it!
The theme of Øredev this year was “The Arts” or how development is not only a science, but also a craft and an art. There were numerous talks tying development to the creative process. Keynotes by Anna Beatrice Scott, Matthew McCullough, and Denise Jacobs did a great job of this. However, I think all who attended would agree that the Keynote by Randall Munroe (XKCD) was a highlight, and really showed how one might use development as an integrated part of your art. He described the April Fool’s pranks pulled by XKCD over the last several years and probably created a yearning for 1,500 people to have a ball pit in their living room. It is a great talk and worth watching. Note: All of the talks at Øredev were recorded, and they are a great resource of information.
In addition to the amazing Keynotes, there were numerous other interesting and enlightening talks. Two Spotify devs spoke on how they have scaled and improved their mobile development to reduce bottlenecks. I also enjoyed the demo of the debug tools they integrated into the test version of the application – timers on every page for load times; easy account changes, and perhaps the coolest one – the ability to record the users face with the phone’s camera as they try new features.
Luke Daley spoke on Gradle (a new Android IDE), which impressed me on its ability to create different versions of the app (free vs. paid; test vs. debug) with the same codebase, but with different config files.
Bryan Costanich gave two talks: I caught the one on advanced Android Architectures, but I will have to watch the video of his talk on Xamarin. I also missed talks given by Kevin Grant of Tumblr on Android design, and Android Threading by Anders Goransson. There were so many great talks that it was very hard to choose where to go!
I also saw several talks on mentoring and training others such as the one given by Jutta Eckstein. In many of the talks, the theme of being courageous, not fearing failure, and embracing failure came up. In order to really change things for the better, sometimes (most of the time) your idea will not work. But you gain a lot of experience and knowledge when you try it. Another great talk was Michael Larson on “faking it” and how a beginner can become an “advanced beginner” to eventually become a specialist in a field. Also interesting were talks by Fred George on Anarchy Programming, and **bleep** Zuill on Mob programming.
Michlele Leroux Bustamante spoke on how to securely use external logins for your app – and how this allows more social sharing on social networks.
Talks on performance and testing theory by Scott Barber and Anne Marie Charrett were also highlights. I liked Scott’s idea that “Performance is NOT cradle to grave; it is conception to headstone.” The idea here is that you have to think about performance BEFORE you launch, and since a headstone is erected as a memory not to forget the performance mistakes of the past. Scott also gave a great talk on reporting your performance data – so that it is easy to understand and poignant to your audience.
The hallway track was also very interesting. I met people who build security systems, develop in languages and databases I still don’t really understand, and I spoke to a group of Norwegians on teaching programming to kids.
Of course, I was at Øredev to speak on mobile app performance and optimization. The ARO talk was well received, and as a result of speaking to Geertjian Weilenga on the bus to the sauna, an ARO integration into NetBeans has been kicked off.
All in all, it was an amazing experience to get to attend this year’s Øredev. I was excited to share my knowledge with others, and I learned an incredible amount of information about many different aspects of my career. If you ever get the chance to attend a polyglot conference such as Øredev, make sure you do – you will learn a great deal by stepping outside of your comfort zone a little bit!