SwanseaCon 2015 retrospective

Last week I had the chance to attend SwanseaCon. The week didn’t start with the best of the luck – I had to postpone my arrival for one day, re-schedule my talk and I that made attend only the second day talks. Here is my quick retrospective.

Venue

The conference took place at Swansea’s Liberty stadium. It was the first time that I attended a conference where the venue IS the stadium. The speakers room was located at one of the best stadium suites and I had the chance to take some great pictures like the following.

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It was a great and relaxing area where speakers could prepare their talks or enjoy the stadium view. The venue also was very practical and “forced” us to attend the talks. There was no big public space so you couldn’t hang around during the talks, which is good because I spend most of time attending the talks and keeping notes of the most interested things I heard and learned.

Speakers lineup

It’s amazing how many great speakers presented their latest talks about agile and craftsmanship. For a newborn conference that was a huge win. The quality bar is already set very high so I’m really curious to see what would be the next step – SwanseaCon 2016 :). Trisha Gee, Rachel Davies, Simon Brown, Sandro Mancuso, Marcello Duarte just to mention a few. I’m so sad I was not there to attend the first day. I missed so many good talks but I will surely watch them as soon as the recordings are available at the conference’s website.

Talks I attended

Here’s the list of talks I attended

  1. Simon Brown – “Software architecture vs code”. It’s the second time I attend this talk and it keeps getting better 🙂 It’s amazing how easy is to produce valuable and understandable architecture diagrams that are presenting the actual code and not science fiction. Simon improves his talk every time and I strongly recommend it for everyone that wants to fill the gap between code and design / architectural diagrams. Oh I almost forgot it : Always create your java classes as package protected. In other words, double-think before you use the public keyword.
  2. Christopher Batey – Software craftsmen need to stop coding so much. I have to admit that based on the title I was quite confused on what to expect. Happily Christopher made that clear during the first 2 minutes of his presentation. I would expecting a title like :”How to do your own bench-marking or understand how companies bench-mark their products”. It was a very good talk, easy to follow and understand and we all got the point. Never trust what companies tell you about what a product can do or their bench-marks. I will surely follow his advice in the near future.
  3. Alexandru Bolboaca – Usable software design. I’m not a UX expert but I loved the idea of borrowing some UX design practices when it comes to design a software. Alex presented his ideas in a very clear way and it feels much better when you think that the design the the UX that the developers will use to build the product. I loved also the checklist he proposed to see if a design is really usable or not.
  4. Eric and Franzi – Refactoring mount doom : the story of a story. I always like Eric’s presentations. He tries every-time to engage the audience as much as possible which is great. This time it was a dual talk. Franzi was presenting the slides and explaining the code and Eric was drawing some sketches 🙂 The content was great although not genuine but I loved the “Lord of the Rings” analogy about adding a new feature to a legacy system. Both of them did their best and I believe they managed to pass the message to the audience about working with legacy code and when/how/why we should refactoring
  5. Pete Smith – It doesn’t work that way in enterprise. A very interesting point of view about how things really work in the enterprise. Why people are afraid of changes and why how you should react to improve it. Whoever worked at least once at an enterprise project / company should have smiled many times during Pete’s talk because most of the examples, human behaviors and situations he presented are really very common to such kind of projects.
  6. Closing key note by Rachel Davies. Rachel is awesome. Period. Whatever topic she picks to talk about you always leave with the sense of :”that was a GREAT talk”. This time wasn’t an exception. The way she presented a retrospective of the conference and what we should have learned from the various talks was awesome. It was the best way of closing an exciting conference.

Things that could be done better

The conference was very well organized but there’s always room for improvement. One thing that can be improved is the audio support of speakers presentation. Not a big deal but some speakers prepare their talks and include some audio slides or similar. Another good idea is to provide feedback to the speakers. There are several ways to do that with red-green-yellow buttons or feedback forms (online or paper-based). Feedback is useful not only for the speakers but also for the conference organizers. You might want to get attendee’s opinion about what they expect next year.

The organizers

Viv, you should be proud about the event you organized and I’m sure that next year will be even more awesome! You have a lovely family and it was really really nice meeting you and spending some time with you and the rest of the speakers. I know you dedicated a lot of time to make this happen so you deserve a big “Thank you” and an even bigger “Congratulations!!!”. Your dream came true and now you don’t have to go to London to attend a high quality conference with great speakers and awesome talks.

Until the next SwanseaCon, keep coding like a crafts-person 🙂

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