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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

This question is unlikely to help any future visitors; it is only relevant to a small geographic area, a specific moment in time, or an extraordinarily narrow situation that is not generally applicable to the worldwide audience of the internet. For help making this question more broadly applicable, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

No chance of a central location (like New Orleans)? – Cade Roux Apr 20 '11 at 21:06
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
Just one thing - will it be available as Live webcast ? I'm outside US or AU :( – Shekhar_Pro Apr 20 '11 at 21:58
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
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
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
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
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
@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
@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
@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
@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 and other uses of JavaScript on the server.

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and other web technologies.

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Wow, do I know how to pick them or what? – Lance Roberts Apr 20 '11 at 5:26
You can be much more specific than AJAX. Is there a specific library or thing that you are interested in doing with AJAX? Just posting the term is not good enough in this case because AJAX is an established technology. With some more context you'll probably fair better. This is a problem with a lot of the items posted here to be honest. – Brian Lyttle Apr 21 '11 at 14:46
up vote 138 down vote


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

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

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What new things can be done in CSS3, etc.

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Django web framework

And maybe Pinax.

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Android Development

Honeycomb, Android on tablets, etc.

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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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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… – VonC Apr 21 '11 at 3:55
@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


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

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Leveraging NuGet

My fantasy is that you can create a new solution, slap in a bunch of packages via NuGet, and have a fully functioning application that does everything you need, without writing a single line of code.

I'd like to see how close to reality this is.

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Successful stories, bottlenecks, pros and cons for Comet.

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and other frameworks for developing mobile applications.

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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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RavenDB (and/or other document databases like CouchDB)

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Basically NoSQL. +1 – Berek Bryan Apr 21 '11 at 13:35
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

Entity Framework

Entity Framework and in particular the new code-first bits.

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JavaScript 1.8.5+ (ECMAScript 5)

along with HTML5

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Scalability and Performance Optimization

Some kind of a practical case study of a bunch of things done to improve the scalability of a successful application.

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Debugging UserScripts

UserScript usage is increasing and debugging them is a real challenge.

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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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+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
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

Microsoft Surface

Developing multi-touch enabled applications for Microsoft Surface.

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

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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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WIX! I would love to see some love for WIX! – Jeff Yates May 9 '11 at 12:36

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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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
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

The latest from Rob Conery.

Now it's WebMatrix and "writing SQL is cool again", by the time of the conference, it'll be "Hibernate, big frameworks, big tools, with CVS is the only way".

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Would love to see some stuff on this.

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

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

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