DeveloperWeek Austin 2019: Great Event, Great People, Great Food

As a developer, is there a special event, you always wanted to attend, like an expo, symposium, keynote, etc? From November 5th to the 7th, I had the fantastic opportunity to attend DeveloperWeek Austin 2019. This event had been on my radar for a while (next to Sitecore Symposium and SUGCON Europe), for all the opportunities it provides to meet some great people in the community and catch up with all the awesome new technologies, tools, techniques, that the industry is using.

What is DeveloperWeek?

DeveloperWeek is very much a community-driven event. Yes, while there are sponsors from big names in the industry like Google, Facebook, Yelp, IBM, Red Hat, Microsoft, Ripple, HackReactor and many more that help make it happen, the conferences, expositors, workshops, etc come directly from notorious members of the community who just want to share the awesome stuff they have been working on recently. And this is probably the biggest reason why I loved it!

The event itself consisted of three main aspects. The expo show floor where sponsors had a chance to show their technologies (and hand off some very sweet swag). The hackathon, was open to everyone and had some great prizes provided by different sponsors. And, in my opinion, the main aspect of the event: the conferences. During the whole duration of the event, you can always find 3 to 4 conferences taking place at the same time. For this reason, DeveloperWeek provides different conference tracks on different topics like Web Development, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, DevOps, Project Management, etc. There is always a topic for everyone. So, lets quickly review a couple of conferences that really capture the essence of DeveloperWeek:

WebAssembly: The Future of JS and a Multi-Language Web

As a back-end developer, this one was especially important to me since WebAssembly allows us to build a bridge for other languages other than JS to run in the browser. In this talk by Kassian Wren from Cloudflare, we understood how WebAssembly builds new bridges between what is back-end and front-end in web development. And how it doesn’t necessarily spell doom for JS but instead allows us to enhance it with the ability to use modules written in other languages that can perform a tasks faster and more efficiently. For instance, we could use a well-established library written in C directly in the browser through WebAssembly.

Visual Recognition with IBM Watson: Building a Classifier in Minutes

We have all heard about IBM Watson and its success in Jeopardy. However, we don’t often picture ourselves using it for our projects. In this workshop, we learned how we can use Machine Learning through IBM Watson Studio to create an API that will classify images and return the picture content. For example, with this approach, we can create a set of pictures with dogs and another one with cats. Using Machine Learning, IBM Watson will try to classify a new picture into one of our groups; improving its results as we increase the number of new pictures we upload to the service. And, as the AI gets better, we can also start creating new subgroups, like different dog breeds, etc.

Third-Party JavaScript: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Being Blamed for Everyone Else’s Bad Web Design

This one really came out of the blue and it really changed my perspective on how we integrate third-party plugins into our pages. In this talk by Hailey Bobella, a Software Engineer at Bazaarvoice, a company responsible for developing Ratings and Reviews plugins that are embedded into websites. As a web development engineer, it’s common practice to blame third-party Javascript plugins for slow page load performance, excessive network calls, etc. However, in this talk, we learned about all the challenges all these companies go through and all the measures they have to take to make sure their plugins don’t impact a live site. In addition, we learned about best practices to minimize these issues when working with these plugins. It really gave me more appreciation for developers working on this kind of plugins and all the pressure they go through on a daily basis.

My Two Cents

Overall, I truly believe that an event like DeveloperWeek helps us keep in touch with what the developer community is doing and where the industry is heading. Sometimes, we focus too much in the same tools and technologies that we use in our projects everyday, But, sometimes, it’s nice to take a step back and see what other people is doing and using. In addition, I believe DeveloperWeek provides an excellent value for the amount of content and networking opportunities that it provides. For instance, an early bird PRO Pass can cost as low as $450. Also, you get to meet some great people and visit the beautiful city of Austin (DeveloperWeek also hosts events in San Francisco and New York), And, as an added bonus, you get the chance to have some of the best BBQ since Austin is home to the world’s famous Franklin’s BBQ (just be there very early!).

So, I hope to see you there next year!

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