.NET Developer Days 2016

Introduction

On 19 – 21 of October I had a great pleasure to attend .NET Developer Days conference in Warsaw. This was my second time at this conference so I had an opportunity to compare and I thought I will share some thoughts about it.

Following the website of the event:

.NET DeveloperDays is the biggest event in Central and Eastern Europe dedicated exclusively to application development on the .NET platform. It is designed for architects, developers, testers and project managers using .NET in their work and to those who want to improve their knowledge and skills in this field. The conference content is 100% English, making it easy for the international audience to attend.

What is sure, is that it’s really big and the speakers are not only locals. For sure that’s the top .NET conference in Poland. There are 3 parallel sessions for the two days of conference (excluding keynotes and sponsor sessions, where there’s only one at a time), so quite a lot of choices to be done, but also full freedom about when and what would you like to listen to.

Conference last year (2015)

I could mention at least two main issues with the conference last year:

  • Registration problems, where one needed to wait for an hour, or so, to register. Which of course has led to postponing keynote and still some people didn’t get in for it. On conference closing the organizer said they are aware of the issue and it won’t happen again
  • Issue with conference party, which took place in a small pub, so it was way too crowdy and one needed again to queue himself to get a beer. This was also promised to be fixed this year

Conference this year (2016)

Of those two mentioned problems, the party problem has been really addressed and the improvement was clearly visible.

If it goes about the registration topic, then it’s not as nice as for the party. Personally, I haven’t experienced this problem, because I was attending a workshop the day before main conference, so I have registered there without having to wait for an hour in a registration queue.

There were only few workshop sessions and around 20 folks per session, so the registration was quite fast. So for me, no problem with registration.

When I arrived on Thursday to EXPO for the first conference day, I already knew that the problem with registration was not solved for everybody. Those people standing there, could have a bit worse experience than I’ve had. If any of those people attended the conference last year, then after hearing those promises about solving registration problems, he might feel disappointed.

This year they said again this problem will be addressed next year, but I think people may not believe 🙂

Apart from this, I didn’t notice any failures in the organization of this event. So let’s skip to the content part.

Day 1: Workshops (Wednesday 19.10.2016)

This year, they have introduced pre-conference workshop day. One could choose one of three options:

  • Ted Neward: Busy .NET Developer’s Workshop on the CLR
  • Dino Esposito: Modern Web Development with the ASP.NET MVC Stack
  • Adam Granicz: Functional Programming on .NET with F# – Become a Programming Jedi Now!

I went for the first option, hoping for some deep dive into CLR details.

As far as I liked the workshops, I think it looked more like a few-hours long presentation than a workshop. Ted said that supposedly the organizers didn’t forward some message about having laptops for the workshop, or something. In any case – I had mine, didn’t use it much though.

If it goes about the level of details Ted drilled down into, it was… not bad, not good. If the conference weren’t paid by my company, I think I would have been a bit disappointed. Not that it was bad, but I had high expectations so being a ‘good’ session was not enough for me.

Expectations aside, I’ve spent a whole day with Ted listening to the .NET and CLR basics and theory with some brief history of Microsoft approach as a company. Ted Neward is really a great speaker and even that I knew many of those facts, I wasn’t bored at all. I think people that are somewhere at the beginning of their .NET experience would benefit from such workshops a lot.

Day 2: Conference ( Thursday 20.10.2016)

As I already mentioned before, one could choose from 3 sessions running in parallel (except keynotes and sponsored sessions). I will describe the sessions I’ve chosen.

  1. Keynote by Jon Skeet – C#: Open, Evolving, Everywhere
    This keynote didn’t get me as much as I thought it will. I like Jon for being such an active person on Stack Overflow. I always admired people that spend their time on helping others and that’s precisely what Jon is doing for a long time already. Being a top 1 StackOverflow user of course means also, that this guys just knows a lot. The presentation was a bit too technical as for a keynote, and a bit too general for being a good technical session. Compared to the keynote from last year, by Scott Hanselman, it was just … so so.

  2. Dino Esposito: Hands-on Experience: What it Means to Design a Domain Model
    Not much to say about this session. If it goes about the content, it was fine. I felt a bit bored, however, so I didn’t go to any other session of Dino after that. I remember Dino as one of the first .NET community guys back in the days of my studies, years ago. I still admire him for his knowledge and practical approach to the technology. He is not a presentation rock-star as for me. I’ve heard a lot good about the other sessions, so I wish I made another choice.
    Alternative sessions:
    Alex Mang: SQL Database From a Developer’s Perspective
    Valdis Iljuconoks: Tackling Complexities and Mediating Hexagonal Challenges

  3. Kuba Waliński: Angular: Back to the Future
    I didn’t like the other sessions so I’ve picked this Angular session even that I already know a bit about Angular 1 and 2. This session was describing the process of transition from first, to second version of the framework from Google. Technically speaking the presentation was fine. Not so many new things for me though. Kuba Waliński seems to be a  real expert in his domain, what made this presentation good even given the fact I know most of the topics he covered.
    Alternative sessions:
    Tomasz Kopacz: Deep dive into Service Fabric after 2 years
    Sean Farmar: Why Service Oriented Architecture?

  4. Sponsor Session. Piotr Spikowski, Marcin Nowak: Deadly Sins of .NET Developers
    VOLVO sponsor session… I was really surprised about this presentation. I was prepared for some very boring content filled with sponsor’s products and ads. The session was well prepared, the speakers were quite precise and consequent in their thoughts. I wasn’t bored, so plus for them.

  5. Ted Neward: Busy .NET Developer’s Guide to Task Parallel Library (TPL)
    I like Ted and how he speaks to the crowd. But this was a bit too much for me. This was more a 100 session than 300 as it was in the agenda. If anybody knows anything about Tasks in .NET, this session was just a brief introduction to the topic. So it was nice to listen to the speaker, but looking at the content, it was rather average, or maybe even less.
    Alternative sessions:
    Adam Granicz: Functional, reactive web abstractions for .NET
    Don Wibier: Using secure WebAPI services from a JavaScript SPA

  6. Maciej Aniserowicz: CQRS for… everyone!
    It is just a pleasure to say that one of the best sessions that day has been given by a Polish dev. No misunderstandings, no workarounds. Clear content, on something, that maybe was not the most difficult topic discussed that day, but transferred in a clean, technical way. I would lie if I say that I was not waiting for this presentation, but even though I had high expectations, I was not disappointed. Maciek rocks.
    Alternative sessions:
    – Dino Esposito
    : Migrating to ASP.NET Core: Challenges and Opportunities
    Valdis Iljuconoks: Dependency Injection: Revisit

  7. Q&A Session with the speakers
    I think that everybody who’s heard about Wroc# speakers panel, was waiting for this part of the conference. As for me, it was rather a poor comparison. Most of the time it was a conversation between Jon Skeet and Ted Neward, but honestly, it was not that good. A charismatic moderator could bring this discussion to a really good level, but apparently there was noone that could take this role.

  8. DevTalk Live! Maciej Aniserowicz interviews Jon Skeet and Dino Esposito on stage!
    What can I say. Nicely moderated, perfect speakers, clear pleasure to listen to this part of the conference. Was maybe worth more than most of the sessions. Maciek rocks again!

Some selfies after the show with people I always admired made my day for good. Won’t forget that part of the conference.

Day 3: Conference (Friday 21.10.2016)

  1. Jon Skeet: Abusing C#
    Strong beginning of the second day. This was THE presentation that could make people that don’t know Jon (are there any like that?) realize that this guy is simply awesome.Lots of C# tricks that would make you think this isn’t for real. Small, maybe even tiny hacks that probably most of the C# developers don’t know and that changes the point of view in regard to C#/.NET perfectness.Examples from his presentation could be found on his blog, like in this blog post.
    Alternative sessions:
    Bartłomiej Zass: The Cloud was made for APIs
    Don Wibier: Breaking Bad: you CAN make Fast Web Pages

  2. Tomas Herceg: Entity Framework Core
    This session again was somehow forced by the parallel sessions’ topics. I had once problems with porting my project to EF Core, so I decided I will give it a shot. I think it won’t be a big surprise if I say that this presentation was not anything that one would remember for years.
    Simple, yet precise introduction to EF Core topics. For somebody totally new in the area and interested in starting some projects with it, would be nice I guess.
    Alternative sessions:
    Don Wibier: Enabling Plugins in your web application with MEF
    Dino Esposito: DDD: Where’s the Value and What’s in It for Me?

  3. Ted Neward: Busy Developer’s Guide to Garbage Collection
    Ted just did it again. The comment is exactly the same as for previous Ted presentations. Cool because he’s cool. Technically speaking, rather nothing new and everybody knows it’s not because Ted doesn’t know more – I think he took wrong assumption about the level of expectations/attendees. I wish I could go to some really deep dive hardcore session about .NET topics from Ted. I think it would be a top rated session knowing how he speaks and how big experience he has in the area.
    Alternative sessions:
    Michał Dudak: How To .NET All The Things
    Sean Farmar: Building (micro) services in .NET

  4. Sponsor Session. Raimondas Tijūnaitis: Complexity game – from big balls of mud to shiny bullets
    That kind of session one would expect from sponsor. I’ve left the room in the middle of the presentation and played some xbox games which were available in the conference hall 🙂

  5. Jon Skeet: Immutability in C#
    Very good presentation, which was very good as I already got bored after previous sessions. Jon was showing different types of immutability and has given some advices on the implementation details for the immutable types. Even people that know what immutability generally speaking is, still would benefit from this presentation a lot.I think that Jon’s presentations (Immutability in C# and Abusing C#) have been the best technical sessions during the conference. No doubts this guy is awesome.
    Alternative sessions:
    Alex Mang: Everyone Loves Docker Containers Before They Understand Docker Containers
    Tomas Herceg: DotVVM: “Web Forms” on .NET Core? Yes!

  6. Closing Keynote: Ted Neward – Rethinking Enterprise
    The show that Ted has given during the closing keynote was something I will surely remember for a long time. This was a perfect example of session where Ted could show all his skills as a speaker. Even that this presentation wasn’t technical, the experience and point of view that Ted presented to the audience, made this session one of the best sessions during the conference.It was discussing the topic that always matters (Enterprise), with his sense of humor (EJB = Enterprise Jesus Beans…), and showing the distance he has to the technical topics that are discussed world wide.Even though that was the last session after three days of conference, I think nobody was bored at this moment.

Conclusions

All in all, it was definitely worth it to go to Warsaw for this conference. Many popular guys from the .NET world, nice venue, interesting sessions.

Main things to remembers:

  • Scott Hanselman’s sessions from previous year not only were good. Compared to many other speakers, looking from the time perspective, his sessions were simply outstanding.
  • Ted Neward is a showman, not only an experienced geek 🙂
  • Jon Skeet is a very nice guy apart from his extraordinary technical skills. We talked a bit about about children and approach to teaching them technical stuff. I think we shared kind of the same approach. Definitely recommended to meet him and listen to his presentations if you only have chance.
  • Workshops should be better organized and more interactive.
  • Having party at the conference venue while QA session is running was a very good idea.
  • The DevTalk session was even better, Maciej Aniserowicz is a professional person and I recommend attending his trainings and presentations.
  • Don’t forget to book ticket for the conference next year early enough!

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