Devoxx is one of the largest developer conferences in Europe. It basically follows a franchise mode, with editions in UK, US, France and others. Devoxx is one of my favorite developer conferences. Back in the day you had to order DVD with the talks, you might have missed - the conference was known as “Javapolis” then. Today they stream the talks in real time and release everything on Youtube for easy consumption, just check their channel.

Devoxx Belgium 2017

The venue

Devoxx takes place at the Kinopolis in Antwerp, Belgium. The talks are held in the cinemas, guaranteeing top seats, top audio and top visual quality. As the conference is always sold out, both rooms and venue are packed to the rim with people. Really popular talks are sometimes overfilled, meaning, that sometimes interested watchers must stick to a recording.

The atmosphere is always infectious. A place by and for hackers, nerds and developers.

The conference

Monday and Tuesday are reserved for hands-on workshops and university sessions. The actual conference takes place from Wednesday to Friday (only half a day). As I tend to skip the workshops and universities, I’ll only cover the sessions themselves.

By the way, 3/5 is a recommendation.

Day one

Java 9 faster - Mark Reinhold and Brian Goetz

Java 9 faster

Interesting background on Java 9 and the future of the language. Excellent presentation and funny.

5/5

CERN, from an IT Perspective - Derek Mathieson

CERN, from an IT Perspective

Background on how IT shapes CERN. Best presentation at Devoxx.

5/5

Move Slow and Mend Things - Kevlin Henney

Move Slow and Mend Things

As always Kevlin Henney delivers deep insights on how development works.

5/5

Build, Deploy, Debug and Tune Serverless Microservices - Randall Hunt

Rather disappointing talk an the basics of serverless with AWS lambda. Based on the agenda, I would have expected more actual production insights.

2/5

Why Spring ❤ Kotlin - Sébastien Deleuze

Spring ❤ Kotlin

In essence: I need to learn Kotlin and Webflux. Enough said.

4/5

Continuous Delivery with Containers: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly - Daniel Bryant

Continuous Delivery with Containers

Top talk on everything CI/CD related with containers. Every slide as deep as it gets. Terrific.

5/5

API Versioning for Zero Downtime, Patrice Krakow

IMHO disappointing description on what ING build internally to work with multi-version REST API releases. To high-level in my opinion.

2/5

Angular for Java Developers, Yakov Fain

A hands on introduction to the foundations of Angular. Although interesting, the talk itself was to high level, which could be expected at a Java conference, I guess.

3/5

Day two

Lazy Java - Mario Fusco

Lazy Java - Mario Fusco Great talk, on why laziness is a good design principle, as always with Mario’s talks, this includes some nerdy code featuring functional Java. Best moment: explaining internal and external iteration with Mario’s daughter.

4/5

Fallacies of Doom - Lessons learned from porting Doom 3 to Java - Mahmoud Abdelghany

Funny and interesting talk about Mahmoud’s porting of Doom 3 to Java. Basically a comparison of C++ and Java. I would have loved more Doom, however.

3/5

Next Generation Asynchronous Patterns in JavaScript - Jonathan Mills

Next Generation Asynchronous Patterns

The basics going from callbacks to async/await and ending in Rx. Frankly, I do not know who the audience should have been. Too difficult for newcomers and too high-level for experienced Javascript devs.

3/5

Spring Boot 2.0 Web Applications - Stéphane Nicoll, Brian Clozel

A rather dry and uninspired presentation of Spring Boot 2, one bonus point because content-wise this is totally relevant to my day-to-day work.

3/5

Devops @Scale - Baruch Sadogursky

Great talk about Devops structured as a Greek tragedy (everybody dies at the end). Just too true to life!

4/5

Angular vs React Smackdown - Matt Raible, Deepu K Sasidharan

Funny comparison of Angular and React. At the end, not enough content for my taste.

3/5

Tensorflow, deep learning and modern convnets, without a PhD - Martin Görner

Tensorflow

Martin builds a system to recognize planes in images using Tensorflow. Obviously, I need to learn this stuff, as I could not really follow all of the slides. Here is an example, I finished university is too long ago ;) : Whoot

4/5

Closing keynote: The Rise of the Weaponized AI Propaganda Machine by Berit Anderson

No spoilers here. Watch it NOW, here.

5/5

Day three

Building Event Driven Services with Apache Kafka and Kafka Streams - Ben Stopford

Maybe I was tired, but this talk on Kafka sounded too much like a sales pitch…which might be unfair.

3/5

Safely Shoot Yourself in the Foot with Java 9 - Heinz Kabutz

Heinz tackles Java 9 hidden booby traps in a funny, entertaining way. Highly recommended.

4/5

Java Language Futures – All Aboard Project Amber - Brian Goetz

Insight into Project Amber and language features beyond modules. As always, deep and interesting with Brian Goetz.

4/5

Top 3 talks (so far)

As I have obviously not watched all talks (how could I, with so many sessions), my top list may not feature your personal favorite. If so, leave a comment and drop me a hint, for you must-see-talk.

You may have noticed, that I did not mention any Venkat Subramaniam talks. The reason is, that all his talks are a must watch anyway and I will check them out on Youtube (and a top talk list containing only his talks would be boring ;) Also I’ll exclude the keynotes, as these always tend to be exceptional. Finally, this includes a talk, I have since caught up with on Youtube.

  1. Continuous Delivery with Containers: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
  2. Video Games are for idiots - Laurent Victorino (How development on games differs from our day to day IT work, I laughed hard, look here)
  3. Devops @Scale - Baruch Sadogursky

In summary

Devoxx.BE 2017 was once again a great conference. The price is fair and the content is of very high quality. The top themes seem to be Serverless, Kotlin and of course Java 9. My “to-learn-list” is filled to the brim, and I’ll be busy watching missed talks on Youtube for the next months.

Two gripes come to mind however. First of all, the number of people is staggering. Second, the number of sponsor-slot seems a little high. There are so many slots filled with Redhat, Pivotal, Oracle people, that one may get the impression, that the community aspect is left behind. Note, that I do not want to imply, that the schedule or anything…this is just a personal impression, that I had. I’ll watch the development closely, as the community involvement was (and is) always a strong point of Devoxx.

If you want to consume the whole Devoxx.BE 2017 goodness, visit the Youtube playlist.

Other than that, I can only urge you to try to buy a ticket for one of the Devoxx (or Voxxed) events near you. If you think, that you have lost your love of programming, come to Devoxx and you will be healed :D

What is your favorite conference or similar event? Drop me a hint, leave a comment.