If you attended DevDays in Austin, unleash your thoughts and reviews about it here. Links to blogs etc. are welcome.

DevDays reviews

Purposefully not a wiki.

  • 2
    Don't make it wiki. Let people get Reputation for their contributions. – George Stocker Oct 15 '09 at 18:22
  • I was careful not to – I did read the comments on the Boston thread :) – Jonik Oct 15 '09 at 18:23
  • (Oh, and as I feel a bit rep-promiscuous for that, please vote up the reviews (if any), not necessarily the question - it would be rather unmerited...) – Jonik Oct 15 '09 at 18:48

I'm going to mostly skip Spolsky's talks because he's always energetic and funny. His opening talk about elegance in coding was a good segue into Eric's presentation. If you read his blogs or use FogBugz then it is old news.

Eric Jones - Python

My take - Best language for some applications

Demonstrated elegant coding using Python's syntax. I haven't seen Python in about 8 years, so it was eye opening in terms of how well Python can manipulate lists. Reminded me of the condensed functionality now available using LINQ in the .NET Framework, I can see where LINQ got some of their syntax. Python is an interpreted language so he showed a scientific application with a console where you can enter and issue Python commands to a 3D model, that feature alone scores very high on the geek scale.

The talk was almost exclusively a code demo, which is nice because from the raise-your-hand poll most people have not seen Python before.

Jonathan Johnson - iPhone

My take - iPhone app development is easy, but not likely profitable

Built a Hello World app right in front of us using an iPhone emulator. Again, I've never seen iPhone app development, so it was a good introduction to what that is all about. It actually looks easy. The Objective-C syntax would take some getting used to but the SDK looks quite approachable. I really liked how he dissected the various parts that make up popular iPhone apps to show what controls were likely being used where and how the behaviors are built-in. Because Apple gives you so many controls to start with, it is easy to make a forms-over-data app that sticks to the Apple motif. Most of the controls are quite extendable, so if there is a control that is built-in but you need an extra label under the header you can do that.

He went into some of the negative business issues such as loosely applied SDK restrictions, viability of products and the difficulty of breaking even.

Peter Mourfield - ASP.NET MVC

My take - MVC 101

Poor MVC, so powerful yet the default setup just doesn't do the technology justice. Peter walked through the typical "intro to MVC" where he explains the MVC model then creates a couple views using the. No mention of DI/IoC, testability was mentioned but not demo'd, alternative view engines were not mentioned. The next version of MVC was not brought up either. So good intro for ASP.NET WebForm developers that haven't seen MVC yet, but I'd like if he was given an extra hour to get into the topics that really make MVC shine.

Jonathan Sharp - jQuery

My take - jQuery is easy and powerful, the best way to write JavaScript

Almost everyone raised their hand when asked if they are using jQuery. Jon quickly went through the concepts behind jQuery, the syntax and the language. For the benefit of Prototype users, several times he explained the NoConflict option. He then went on to create a simple jQuery page that copied select options from one list to another. After doing so, he asked the audience for feature suggestions, which is incredibly daring but jQuery is so easy to use that he had the features working quickly. I didn't learn anything new that I can think of off hand since I've been using jQuery for a very long time, but it was really neat to see someone else writing code live on stage and see the process they took to create a feature.

Damien Katz - Erlang / CouchDB

My take - Freaking awesome! Why store data in a relational database if it isn't relational in real life?

Although the talk was titled Erland and CouchDB, it was almost exclusively about CouchDB. He was one of the funniest presenters and gave an awesome CouchDB talk. By far he had the most questions at the end too, probably because the concept of a document database with peer replication is so different and fixes so many problems. When they cut off the question time there were still three people with hands up. He did a lot of well deserved bragging at the beginning concerning the companies happily using CouchDB and the insane performance of the system. At the end, when asked who would like to use CouchDB a very large number of people said they would. I wish Erlang ran better on Windows and Windows CE, that would make life wonderful. Right now it does best on *nix. The promise of peer replication for handheld and edge computing is too much to ignore.

I missed Jason Cohen's talk, but people said that he was quite funny. I got his book though, so I'll have to see if there is anything new about peer review in there.

  • Excellent review, thanks! – Jonik Oct 15 '09 at 19:53

It was awesome (I actually took audio of the whole thing)

The best part of DevDays: most of the presenters actually sat down and wrote code as part of their presentation. To me, this added alot of value and is a pretty risky thing to do. Especially having 300 people point out your bugs as you write code :P

Joel's presentation at the beginning was really great. He talked about the performance vs simplicity tradeoff in software and about how users hate to make decisions.

My favorite presentation was Jason Cohen's talk on how code reviews don't have to suck. He didn't so much give reasons to have code reviews, but instead he focused on how to not waste time while doing the reviews. I was impressed he didn't even plug his company's code review product (until the end).

The most interesting presentation from a stand point of "I had no idea you could do that" was Damien Katz's presentation on CouchDB. It's a document-oriented database that focuses on scaling up and down. Check it out here: http://couchdb.com Also, props to Damien for giving his talk in sweat pants and a t-shirt (symbolizing the slogan of CouchDB "relax").

I was a bit disappointed in the iPhone development talk. Jon did a good job showing the code/interface creation and part of the development process, but it seemed a little long to me.

I'm going to add the audio files to my blog, I wasn't going to at first, but there looks like there is some interest. (I'll send you a link when they are up).

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