Anyone who works in technology can tell you it is an ever-changing field. Conferences provide a way to keep up with the latest trends, learn a broad range of topics, and network with engineers from all over the world. Two of our engineers, Dustin Stage and Brian Ham, recently attended the Norwegian Developers Conference (NDC) in Minneapolis. Prior to the conference, they both had a pretty good idea on “What makes a conference great?” The answer: Inspiring speakers, Phenomenal food, a fantastic location, and then top it off with some great organizers.” Dustin and Brian’s 2 days of workshops and 2 days of conference sessions had all of these.
Brian and Dustin attended workshops on Monday and Tuesday. For Brian, his 2-day workshop with Mattias Brandewinder (@brandewinder) was a great start to the week. Brian, having very little experience with functional programming, was walked through the basics, piping, and language constructs of F#. Using real data to illustrate concepts, the basics were laid out and mixed up with higher level ideas. Ideas like training models starting with decision stumps, building trees and working into forests. F# has a learning curve and an elegant sort of beauty to it that is worth your time to learn.
Dustin attended a workshop on Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) led by Udi Dahan, CEO of Particular Software. The architecture of a large software system is critical to its success. Poor architecture can lead to performance bottlenecks and system crashes. Architecture only gets more complicated as we add the requirements for modern applications such as scalability and reliability. SOA is an approach to architecture that attempts to solve these problems by breaking the system down into small domains with each domain responsible for a single business capability. The ideas behind SOA have been around for years in one form or another, but are gaining more visibility as businesses look to utilize the flexibility of cloud services.
The actual conference on Wednesday and Thursday was fantastic. Sessions covered a variety of topics including Designing for Trust, attaching microcontrollers to Redis, Browser-Based.Net applications, cloud security, cloud architecture, development practices, and many more. These topics, coupled with the workshops, highlight the importance of continued learning as the rise of cloud providers such as Azure and AWS has given unprecedented levels of flexibility in system design. Of course, the conference organizers understood that you couldn’t learn on an empty stomach. Between the catered meals, snacks, and drinks, no one was left hungry during the sessions.
…And the fun stuff
The fun didn’t stop when the sessions ended. The nighttime entertainment set up by the Norwegians continued to impress. The riverboat cruise on day 2 was one of the highlights of the conference that will stick with both Dustin and Brian. It was a truly memorable night that started as a cool evening, with gourmet food, drinks, and conversation with fellow techies from all over the globe. Some of them flying in from as far as Germany and Malta. While on the boat, Dustin and Brian both enjoyed learning about what others were working on along with the passions and interests that drove several of the speakers. To end the night right, a school bus provided transportation back to the downtown hotel which included the NDC organizers. The phrase “a truly American experience” was uttered a few times and it really summed the evening up well.
All in all, NDC: Minnesota was an excellent experience filled with many learning opportunities including workshops, sessions, and networking. Oh yeah! NDC has committed to returning to Minnesota next year! May 6-9th, put it on your calendars…there will be a few of us from Omnitech there!