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Here's a very brief summary of how Stack Overflow DevDays 2011 will go down:

  1. It'll be two days long.

  2. It'll be sometime in September or October.

  3. There will be FOUR independent, separate events to choose from in different cities: London, Washington DC, San Francisco, and Sydney.

  4. There will be a single track, so you never have to worry about choosing between two equally cool topics.

When we did DevDays 2009, the idea was to do some intensive, one hour programming tutorials on the kinds of topics that we thought a lot of programmers really wanted to learn, but didn't have a chance yet to use at work. Two years ago, the topics we tried to cover were jQuery, Python, iPhone development, ASP.NET MVC, Google App Engine, etc.

This year, we've got two days, so there'll be time for even more sessions. We'll also have time for deeper, more big-picture talks in between the tutorials.

What topics would you like to learn about at DevDays 2011? One topic per answer, please, and vote up all the ones you like.

UPDATE (April 21st) Thanks for all the feedback, ideas, and votes so far. Keep it coming! We are working on nailing down dates and venues. Soon, we will line up committees for each city responsible for lining up speakers and fleshing out the schedule: they'll use this input as guidance to set up an awesome program in each of the four venues.

In the meantime if you have other questions about DevDays or other discussion, please ask it as a separate question tagged devdays-2011, don't just leave a random fly-by comment in the comments.

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closed as too localized by kiamlaluno, random Nov 24 '11 at 5:50

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5  
No chance of a central location (like New Orleans)? –  Cade Roux Apr 20 '11 at 21:06
3  
I was definitely holding out for another Canadian stop, but I guess the guys down under luck in this time. –  mistagrooves Apr 20 '11 at 21:42
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Just one thing - will it be available as Live webcast ? I'm outside US or AU :( –  Shekhar_Pro Apr 20 '11 at 21:58
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And one more thing will Jon Skeet and his Tony the Pony will be there this time too.... (I miss tony a lot ;) –  Shekhar_Pro Apr 20 '11 at 22:01
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if only there were a q&a site, where you could ask questions, and get answers... and people could, you know, vote on those answers, and... OH WAIT! THERE IS! Plz 2 ask all follow-up q's using the ASK QUESTION button and then typing. kthx –  Joel Spolsky Apr 20 '11 at 22:32
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Can you guys push it later? I'm kind of getting married in September ;-) Unless I can convince my future wife to honeymoon at DevDays ... (just kidding!!!) –  Pandincus Apr 21 '11 at 1:09
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Any chance of some open space sessions at these events? The best parts of the last conference were the discussions between sessions and afterwards. The topics at the DC event were hit and miss. If you want info/advice on running these talk to the PyCon folks like Bruce Eckel as they run them really well, compared to those I've seen at .NET events. –  Brian Lyttle Apr 21 '11 at 3:27
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Why not just create a question for each venue and allow session submissions in the answers. Highest voted submissions get in. Simple as. –  PhilPursglove Apr 21 '11 at 10:43
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@PhilPursglove I'm not sure I'd bother going to the conference if that was the case. I can understand why DVCS is leading below, but I don't think that it necessarily makes for the best presentation or conference content. It would need to cover material above and beyond the likes of the hg init tutorial. –  Brian Lyttle Apr 21 '11 at 14:43
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@BrianLy "The topics at the DC event were hit and miss" This is likely the biggest reason they are 1) holding fewer events and 2) forming committees to determine the topics and speakers. –  Adam Davis May 4 '11 at 13:44
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@adam - the reason there are fewer events is because of the tremendous amount of time and energy it takes to do a venue/event. They are delegating the work and looking for an easier way to find/determine topics. It has nothing to do with "hit and miss" –  tim May 10 '11 at 15:23
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@Cade Are you based in the US by any chance? A central location based on London, US East Coast, US West Coast, and Australia would be near the Earth's core. It might present practical difficulties. –  MarkJ May 19 '11 at 14:16

74 Answers 74

up vote 90 down vote accepted

Node.js

Node.js and other uses of JavaScript on the server.

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HTML 5

"HTML 5" applications (offline web apps, local storage, etc.) would probably be a good candidate.

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Distributed Version Control Systems

Git, Mercurial, etc. Advantages/disadvantages over CVS/SVN, examples of workflows, tools, social coding (GitHub, Bitbucket, Google Code, etc.).

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5  
By the way, for London DevDays 2011, I can make a presentation on how to introduce a DVCS in a big corporation: I can easily expand on stackoverflow.com/questions/5683253/… –  VonC Apr 21 '11 at 3:55
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@Pandincus: Same here, but I really would like to know how to move your company forward, getting them to accept DCVS instead of old SVN/CVS systems. So I voted this one up. –  Roalt May 9 '11 at 13:07

Deployment

One of the more challenging situations we encounter (in our very small shop) is deploying new versions of software smoothly. I hear a lot about one-click deployment, build automation, and continuous integration, but I'd like to learn more.

Perhaps one or more of the following topics could be discussed:

  • Package management (OK, maybe the NuGet answer covers this)
  • Build servers/build automation
  • Configuration file/connection string management
  • One-click deployment/'Continuous Deployment'
  • Database versioning/upgrading to newer schema/downgrading to older schema
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1  
WIX! I would love to see some love for WIX! –  Jeff Yates May 9 '11 at 12:36

Leaving the mothership

I'd like to hear from people who left their day job and started a one-man-shop or a bigger company. What's the important stuff to get right? War stories would be great. An entertaining break from the technical side of programming.

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Perhaps we could hear about talking to corporate, approving memos, leading workshops, remembering birthdays, micromanagement, and promoting synergy. Like a boss. –  Pandincus Apr 25 '11 at 7:09
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If I'm out on my own, who will I submit my TPS report to?! –  spoulson May 3 '11 at 21:04
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Or even turning your job into an internal "one man shop" - sometimes the corporate life can be more livable if you work more like an entrepreneur. –  AnonJr May 5 '11 at 0:43
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I think this and other similar topics would be good for a "Business of software, lite" - but perhaps not for a devdays. I think the goal is technical topics. –  tim May 10 '11 at 14:42
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You could ask Leon the SecretGeek, he has done this and speaks on the subject –  MarkJ May 31 '11 at 9:12

Scalability

How to design web applications for scalability. Things to avoid in order to not shoot yourself in the foot later. Using "The Cloud" (Amazon EC2, etc.).

Maybe off-topic for Stack Overflow.. perhaps more Server Fault related, but figured I'd throw it out there and let the community decide.

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Android Development

Honeycomb, Android on tablets, etc.

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Programming Best Practices

While a lot of folks on Stack Overflow are experienced developers, I'm sure there's quite a few who are newcomers to the field and are still learning. A good topic might be an overview of some industry best practices to make the event more open to newcomers, and to perhaps give folks still in school some insights into real world problems/solutions which they might not normally learn at school.

A quick list of things that spring to mind:

  • SQL injection - What is it? Why is it bad? How to prevent it?
  • Version control - Why you should use it, systems available, single vs distributed, etc.
  • Internationalization - Unicode, why it's not as simple as it first seems, etc.
  • Encryption - Why it's bad to roll your own, etc.
  • Unit testing - Why it's important, how it helps, etc.

As the event is single track, the downside would be that it would be of little use for experienced programmers whom I imagine would make up a significant portion of the audience.

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3  
+1 Tony the pony (Jon Skeet) presented on this at the London DevDay. I couldn't make it but the slides look awesome. I have some colleagues who could benefit from this. –  MarkJ May 19 '11 at 14:11
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I bet that there will be a lot of people there that think they don't need this kind of training but actually do. Just because you have been coding for ten years doesn't mean you are any good at it. I think it is sad that the software industry is so focused on the next technology that they never talk about ways to improve quality. –  Martin Brown May 25 '11 at 8:51

UI design for engineers,

or working with UI designers as an engineer

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+1 for the first part, as some of us work where we don't have separate UI designers ... –  GreenMatt Apr 22 '11 at 20:53

CSS3

What new things can be done in CSS3, etc.

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Hadoop

MapReduce, HBase, Cassandra, HDFS, etc. How are they useful? When should they be used?

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Writing a compiler or interpreter (or even plain old parsing)

This is something that a lot of people do in a CS course. For a lot of programmers who did not study CS it is scary, but interesting at the same time.

Since this is such a huge topic there are various ways it could be approached. Examples:

  • Basic howto with some working example that attendees can explore after the event.
  • Pick apart an existing compiler or interpreter like IronPython.
  • Review some common language features and how they are implemented in different compilers or runtimes.
  • Look into how a DSL can be created.
  • How to build a SQL parser with a popular language.
  • How parsing techniques can be used outside of a traditional compiler/interpreter to make life easier.
  • How does a browser parse and display HTML.
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+1 Especially for the last one... since we know it doesn't use RegEx :P –  uɐɯsO uɐɥʇɐN Apr 21 '11 at 19:18
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There's a reason compilers are an entire undergraduate or graduate course - they are a huge area. This would have to be pretty focused. –  justkt May 4 '11 at 15:15

Search

Search in heterogeneous data, Lucene, Solr, and whatever the cool kids use.

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Patterns and practices for functional programming

I would love to learn more about patterns for functional development. I've always enjoyed playing with functional languages (Common Lisp back in the day, now Mathematica and Clojure), but I always find that as soon as I dive into larger projects, the code turns into a mess. From someone who's developed large, functional code bases: what are some good practices? What does it "feel" like to write large functional code bases?

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jQuery Mobile

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2  
+1 - I had never even heard of jQuery Mobile until I saw it here. –  uɐɯsO uɐɥʇɐN May 4 '11 at 16:00

C++11

(Formerly known as C++0x)

I want to know about the new features and changes/additions to the standard library.

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ASP.NET MVC 3

Would love to see some stuff on this.

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1  
Here you go ;-) –  fretje Apr 21 '11 at 18:21

Advanced Topics in Computer Science

A survey of interesting "latest and greatest" issues that are being explored but haven't quite hit the main stream yet, or are just starting to get attention, or that are not being leveraged fully yet. For example GPU computing, multicore computing, or scientific computing clusters might be a topic.

This might not be a good area to work on for side-topics or break out sessions, but I could see at least one main topic being presented as part of the regular main sessions. Additionally, if you have a limited number of locations for travel, you might also be able to get someone from a local university to come in and give a presentation on a topic.

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Django web framework

And maybe Pinax.

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MongoDB

This seems to be the clear winner for document oriented databases.

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RavenDB (and/or other document databases like CouchDB)

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Basically NoSQL. +1 –  Berek Bryan Apr 21 '11 at 13:35
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It is a part of NoSQL. There are other types like KV stores and graph databases. Covering all of NoSQL is too broad a session type, unless you can go beyond the stuff that can be looked up in 5 minutes on Wikipedia. This is the type of thing that might work better as a panel discussion with people sitting in different camps (relational vs. nosql, or couchdb vs. redis vs. cassandra etc) –  Brian Lyttle Apr 21 '11 at 14:52

Comet

Successful stories, bottlenecks, pros and cons for Comet.

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Distributed cache (Memcached, AppFabric Cache), search (Lucene, Solr).

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Concurrency / Parallel Computation

Processors are no longer getting significantly faster, just more numerous. Knowing how to take advantage of multi-core machines and computing clusters is going to be a valuable skill.

There is an alphabet soup of technologies out there: AMP, SMP, MPP, NUMA, GPGU, CUDA, OpenCL, etc. Effective programmers will have to be conversant in these, plus thread saftey, synchronization mechanizms, cache interactions, and more.

Let's have some help figuring out how to turn our serial processes into parallel ones.

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Practical cross-platform development

Possible topics:

  • Virtualization for testing, builds, development
  • Licensing/copy protection across multiple platforms
  • Continuous integration while building for multiple platforms
  • Best practices and best tools (e.g. useful debugging and profiling tools for each platform)
  • UI frameworks for cross platform development
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PhoneGap

and other frameworks for developing mobile applications.

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JavaScript 1.8.5+ (ECMAScript 5)

along with HTML5

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