GeeCON 2012: subjective review
In the middle of May one of the biggest Java conferences in Poland took place – GeeCON 2012. Although I think it is almost always worth to technical conferences even if lectures not necessarily fit your needs – it was my first time on GeeCON and first visit to technical conference since DevCrowd in April 2011. I went to GeeCON with hurray optimism and very high expectations. I was interested in lots of lectures and I hoped that I will be able to use some of knowledge shared there immediately when I am back to work (some people would call it conference driven development ;)).
Few facts about GeeCON
- 3 days – one so called University Day and 2 main days
- 5 paths – at most 5 lectures at same time
- Variety of topics from Java EE by testing, tools like Vaadin, OSGI into Agile methodologies
- No speech about Spring Framework or any related product
- 500 attendees in total including 30 girls
What went good
There were couple of really good lectures (it might be that there were much more but I just was unlucky):
- Real world infispan by Pete Muir – I use Ehcache in my daily job and I think Infinispan might be reasonable replacement
- “Ceylon: the thinking behind a new language by Gavin King. It wasn’t really about “what cool features do we have in Ceylon” but more about what is the reason behind creating new language. He said that Ceylon is created for applications with lifetime 10-15 years. I am only affraid if Ceylon will survive for so long..?
- Vaadin 7 – good introduction to Vaadin for beginners and description of changes coming in new release. That would be very good position in Tools & Toys path
- Bruce Eckel’s Reinventing business – as a matter of fact it was more for management than for developers but still very interesting talk about work, life, successes and failures
- Visibility Shift in Distributed Teams – Pawel Wrzeszcz shown how to manage and work in distributed teams in company even without an office. I work for half a week remotely and its good to see that it can really work for others as well
- Agile Requirements by Example – Keith Braithwaite presented way of specifying requirements by user stories and getting automated acceptance tests out of it. I really like this approach
Unlimited coffee and food :)
I met friends from my previous job as well as new interesting people. We enjoyed bar hopping and I regret that I could not stay on after party after conference was over.
What went wrong
First of all location. Conference took place in a cinema which is probably great for audio-visual experience but I would say that usability level is quite low. There were no changing rooms or any place where you could leave your jacket so during first day when I was not aware of it I had to carry all the time with me: laptop bag, GeeCON bag with all useful and useless sheets of paper given by GeeCON staff and a jacket that means exactly that drinking coffee and carrying it was not really comfortable.
Another thing is schedule. In my opinion conference is not only about listening to lectures but also meeting new people, discussing stuff with them. Here we had (except lunch break) 20 minutes at most breaks which is too short in my opinion.
When it comes to schedule – there were 5 paths – 5 rooms – 5 lectures at the same time. I have a feeling that lectures were assigned to rooms completely randomly. Everyone was jumping all the time from one room to another. I think it would be smarter if each or at least some rooms would be assigned to a topic like Java EE, Agile methodologies or Tools & Toys.
Last one – University Day – a day before main part of conference. I was not sure how this day would be different than main two days and the only difference that I could see before I went there was that lectures are twice as long. And actually that was the only difference. I expected a lot from this day. 2 hours for lecture about tools like Cucumber is really long – enough time to show real world example, show how it solves complex problems. Unfortunately most of lectures that I’ve chosen seem to be prepared for 1 hour talk and after 1h presenters start to go too deep into unimportant details or to go through notes to find out what to say next. I think overall experience would be much better if those lectures would take only half time. I can’t blame organizers for quality of lectures but I think in the future University Day should look differently.
In the hall you could meet people from JetBrains, Allegro and other companies. The most visible for me was e-point promoting their product OneWebSQL. Very kind people from e-point shown me what is it all about – in short – it generates entities, DAOs, DTOs, safe criteria language and more for SQL databases – looks interesting – but they were not able to convince me that its in any possible way better solution than using Spring Data JPA in conjunction with QueryDSL. Especially when OneWebSQL is a commercial solution – in fact not so cheap – 256 EUR per developer per year.
Practical Unit Testing with TestNG and Mockito
I had opportunity to talk for a while (just a while because I was in hurry to not be too late for next lecture) with Tomasz Kaczanowski – author of Practical Unit Testing with TestNG and Mockito. I was following news about his book for a couple of weeks and I was happy to buy it during the conference for promotion price :–) (anyway its somehow easier for me to spend 25 EUR than 100 PLN).
I use Mockito heavily in all my projects but I was never attracted by TestNG enough to start using it. Let’s see if Tomasz will convince me to do so.
Stuff worth look at
Tool that I did not know before or if I know I was not convinced to have a deeper look on it:
- Jannocessor – code generation tool
- Infinispan – data grid platform. Can be used as cache provider in Spring 3.1
- Ceylon – JVM language from RedHat
- Kotlin – JVM language from JetBrains
I am still not convinced to OSGi especially when all my friends that have used it do not recommend it at all. Does anyone really have good experiences with OSGi?
I expected more but maybe my expectations were too high. Lectures that I was not really counting on were often much more interesting than ones on which I was really waiting for (“Behaviour Driven Development with Cucumber for Java”, “Java EE—Or Who Cares About WebContainers?”). I also have to say that conference style of sharing knowledge is not my favorite one. As Bruce Eckel said – listening only is not the best way to learn for everyone. I would probably enjoy attending to Open Spaces conference day after – but it was announced much too late and I could not change my plans so I had to skip it.
Besides all those things that went wrong I believe that organizers put a lot of work and time to make this conference as good as they could. Thanks for that and please try to fix this year issues. See you next year on GeeCON 2013!