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Feb 27, 2018
DevNexus is a premier professional Java developers conference in the Southeast. I attended this conference three years in a row from 2013 to 2015 and didn’t attend for a couple of years. I went back again this year, thanks to a Women Who Code scholarship. DevNexus offers a multitude of tracks/topics guaranteed to please programmers of all stripes and I have always been impressed with their quality of speakers. This year, while the conference itself did not disappoint me, it was the “add-ons”, specially those focused on encouraging women in tech that won me over completely!
Day 1 started off with a Women in Technology breakfast sponsored by Oracle and moderated by the dynamic Heather VanCura (@heathervc), Java Community Process Chair [pictured 2nd from right]. An avid advocate for women in tech, she encouraged the women at the breakfast to take the next step and graduate from being a conference attendee to becoming a speaker. Some of the women who had prior experience with speaking at conferences, shared their stories and gave tips on how to get started. This was a very inspiring and valuable session.
[Pic 1: At the women in technology breakfast with Heather VanCura]
It was also a real pleasure to meet Dr. Diane Davis of NASA at the breakfast, who was the keynote speaker of the day! After outlining the complexity and computational challenges involved in working with deep space lunar orbits, she and her colleague showed how software designed using Java 8 and Java FX could unleash the power of rapid parallel search and filtration on huge datasets to generate 2D and 3D plots, giving the users a totally immersive experience.
[Pic2: Dr. Diane Davis delivering the keynote on Day 1]
My first technical session was in the ‘Serverless and Cloud’ track given by Karun Japhet (@javatarz). Using a boxing theme, he created a matchup of two popular architectures for event driven applications — the time-tested microservices model running on bare metal servers and/or VMs pitted against the newer Serverless model in the cloud. He articulated the pros and cons of each in the context of various cross-functional requirements. While each model has its appeal for a specific user/use case, the Serverless is on the rise and clearly the way of the future.
My interest in the Serverless and Cloud was piqued enough by this talk that I decided to stick with this track for the rest of the day. The next two sessions presented by Burr Sutter, DevNexus founder (@burrsutter) were a treat in many ways. He tossed in a healthy dose of humor into his fast-paced introduction to #Kubernetes and the plethora of things it gets you for free in the world of containerized applications, like service discovery and load balancing. In his other talk titled ‘Service Mesh and Sidecars’ I got a glimpse in to some of the capabilities of #Istio such as traffic shaping, network fault-injection, canary deployments and dark launches. It’s a brave new ‘still-in-alpha’ world and as Burr put it, not for the ‘faint at heart’.
During the day Heather conducted a panel session with Java experts touching on several topics of interest to developers such as career advancement, how to get involved with the open source community, and the evolution of Java. She also interviewed several women, discussing topics relevant to women in tech. In my session, we discussed an idea I had for a talk I could give at a future conference.
Kelsey Hightower of Google (@kelseyhightower) delivered an impressive keynote on the future of Cloud. Explaining that it is Containerization that unlocks the true potential of cloud computing, he demonstrated some of the hallmark features of Kubernetes and Istio. The highlight of the talk was him using Google assistant to give voice commands to the platform. Despite a few technical glitches he kept the audience engaged throughout with his casual style and humor.
[Pic 3: Kelsey Hightower delivering the keynote on Day 2]
The next two sessions I attended were centered around the Spring framework. Madhura Bhave gave a sneak peek into the new features coming to Spring Boot 2.0 to a packed room. Among them the reactive features of Spring, Kotlin support, Spring Boot Micrometer and a Functional API.
[Pic 4: Madhura Bhave of Pivotal talking about Spring Boot 2.0]
Rossen Stoyanchev’s talk on Spring Framework 5 focused on the architectural and performance differences between the two web stacks it offers — the Servlet stack and the Reactive stack. He explained that the servlet stack based on Spring MVC, with its single thread per request model, will require a lot more threads to achieve high concurrency when compared to the Reactive stack based on Spring Web Flux and non-blocking I/O calls. He illustrated the differences with a demo.
AMahdy Abdelaziz (@amahdy7) started his talk with why PWAs (Progressive Web Apps) are trending nowadays. He made a compelling argument that with their quick load times (even on slow networks), relevant push notifications, home screen icon and full-screen experience, they are more efficient and convenient than mobile apps and are here to stay. He also talked about several PWA starter kits which make building one easy. I can’t wait to try some of them out.
I really enjoyed my two days at DevNexus. A big shout-out to AJUG, the conference organizers. Besides the usual conference takeaways — the keynotes, the technical talks, trying out hands-on vendor labs and visiting their booths, the “add-on” I really loved was meeting and interacting with other #WWCodeAtl members at the conference. I learnt about the upcoming We Rise Tech conference organized by WWCodeAtl which showcases women at the forefront of Tech. I can’t wait to hear and cheer these amazing women!
[Pic 5: With some of the #WWCAtl group at the conference]