March 26, 2014

QCon London 2014 – Impossible to Summarize?!

Continuous Delivery
angry customer
Image: QConPictures via Flickr

Impossible? Maybe but I’ll have a go! I was lucky enough to attend the recent QCon London conference. Well, perhaps it wasn’t all luck as Perforce were a major sponsor at the event and I was a speaker!

The conference had one of the most varied agendas I’ve seen at a conference (although MonkiGras does a pretty good job on that front but at slightly smaller scale). Over 1100 people attended the three day conference which has a series of parallel themed tracks ranging from “Everything you wanted to know about CS (but were too afraid to ask)” through to “People over process in the real world.”

I didn’t get to attend as many of the sessions as I hoped but a few that stood out:

  • Damian Conway talking about “Life, the Universe and Everything” which took the “Game of Life” as a central theme but became, if you can believe it, a lesson in how to program in OOK (that’s Object Oriented Klingon for the uninitiated)
  • That wasn’t the only unusual language I encountered (although it probably was the most unusual). I know I’m getting technically rusty but there were more languages being discussed than I could have imagined. Node.js, Angular.js, and JSON are all very mainstream. I encountered RX and “Reactive Programming” for the first time.
  • Tim Bray, soon to be ex-Googler & industry guru (he was one of the original creators of XML), spoke about the future of the browser and highlighted how server-side programming has really got its act together but client-side has never been more complicated or unproductive (because you have to cover, at least, three clients – web, iOS and Android – you can only deliver a third of the value with the same resources). Although there are some great toolkits for Android and iOS, the proliferation of languages and frameworks which try to make up for weaknesses in CSS, Javascipt and DOM is mind-boggling. However, he was pretty bullish that we’re in a golden age of technology.
  • • I had a good chat with Joe Armstrong, the creator of Erlang which is suddenly very hot as Facebook just paid $19 Billion USD for its most high-profile user although it’s embedded in just about every piece of mobile network on the planet.

For Perforce the most interesting track was on Day 1 – “Real Agile Delivery with DevOps” which highlighted a number of real-life users of Continuous Delivery such as Etsy, and a 12 person team that runs a bank in Sweden (yes, a total of 12 for all IT and business functions!).

Dave Farley, co-author of the Continuous Delivery book also presented and he repeated his recommendations that closely align with the Perforce messages for Continuous Delivery best practice including “version everything” and “automate, automate, automate”.

I met up with a lot of old friends, existing Perforce customers and many new faces. The most common conversations were around Git Fusion and how it can work with Git to provide an artifact repository and Swarm for code collaboration and review workflows.

If you have a chance, I recommend you take a look at the videos and slides available on the - many of the slide decks are available but the videos (including the one of my presentation) are being slowed released over the next few weeks. My slides are already available on Slideshare.

Overall, it was a great experience and I’m looking forward to next year’s event already.