In early August, I had the opportunity to attend Kansas City Developer Conference in Kansas City, MO.  This was my first official trip to the city as an adult, as the last time I had been in the city was for the National Catholic Youth Conference in 1997.  My experiences this time around exposed me to a great tech community.

The Tech Family Reunion and #SarahConf!

One of my favorite parts of going to tech conferences is meeting other speakers and conference organizers, sharing experiences and learning from each other.   I enjoyed seeing friends I’ve made from my years in the conference organizing and speaking realms.  Most of all, I enjoyed meeting some of their local speakers and hearing about their adventures.   Great to meet new people and consider them part of my tech family!

Special thanks to Sarah Withee – @geekygirlsarah – for introducing me to #SarahConf:

Informative Sessions

In addition to speaking on “The Importance of User Experience for Developers”, I took some time to check out some of the sessions as well.  Some of the sessions I checked out included:

  • Sara Ford – The Psychology of Developer Tool Usability
  • Billy Korando – Everything Else New in Java 9
  • Michael Dowden – Introduction to Java Web Security
  • Jeff Cohen – Computer Science: The Good Parts
  • James Bender – I Promise to Give You a Callback: Working with Asynchronous JavaScript

The Psychology of Developer Tool Usability

With UX and usability (and Sara Ford’s energy and #SarahConf), I had to start with a topic that might bleed into my presentation topic.  I am always curious to see what others have to say, especially when it applies to developers.  This presentation lived up to what I was looking to see, despite 9 am brain going “basal ganglia?!  so early… can’t brain…”

It was great to hear Sara Ford’s experiences both from her times at Microsoft and with her Master’s Degree project as well.

Everything Else New in Java 9

Part of my work at The Software Guild has been teaching Java and contributing to their Java curriculum.  I’ve been watching Java 9 to see what is included, and I’m excited about what it has to offer.  While at KCDC, I caught Billy Korando’s session on Java 9.  It is interesting to see the modularity that comes with the Jigsaw Project.  This isn’t the first time I’ve seen this concept – it reminds me of something similar to PowerShell’s modules.  I’m also excited to see the REPL – as someone who sometimes teaches Java and who helps write curriculum to teach beginners, I can see the REPL being helpful for teaching.  There were some improvements to streams – which I was happy to see as it’s functionality we’ve had in C# with LINQ.  I like when I can show my apprentices that you can do similar things in C# and Java, which makes it easier for me to tell them that if you can understand one, the other has enough similarities to be easy to pick up.  There are plenty of other advancements in Java 9, and Billy had a lot to show in a short period of time.  He did a great job of showing these features!

Java Web Security

After the Java 9 talk, I had to get more Java in!  Michael Dowden presented on “Java Web Security” – including Spring Security, Apache Shiro, and Bouncy Castle.  We teach Spring Security at The Software Guild, so I was well aware of what I was getting myself into, topic-wise.  I hadn’t heard of Apache Shiro, and just saying Bouncy Castle makes me smile.  (A bounce house for Java?!?  Hmm… sounds fun! 😀 )  Being a web security talk, of course, the OWASP 10 had to be mentioned.  Seeing Mkyong.com referenced as a resource validated what I’ve been recommending to my apprentices.

Computer Science: The Good Parts

When I saw this on the schedule, I had to wonder – what is someone considering “the good parts” of CS?  I started out in a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Engineering programming and switched after 2 years into a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Engineering Technology program.  So I never left the CS part – I switched from theory-focused to application-focused.  There’s a part of me that gets bored with theory and history and just wants to get into applying it.  As I’ve gotten older, the theory part is slowly getting interesting, and I am excited about the historical parts.  So… what did Jeff Cohen point out as some of the good parts?  Data structures – and yes, these can be fun!   He also mentioned some of the historical figures:

He even mentioned Grace Hopper’s take on a nanosecond, which led me to post:

Algorithms are fun too, and Manning has a great book I recommend – as the practical me likes its approach to explaining algorithms:

And one of the most important points that I gathered from the presentation is that computer programming and computer science are not one and the same.  I see many people try to say they are, so it’s good to hear someone else stress that they differ.

I Promise to Give You a Callback: Working with Asynchronous JavaScript

In our curriculum, I also help with the JavaScript materials.  Promises have been on my list of things to read up on and understand.  I’ve known James Bender for awhile, so I was excited to catch a session on something I’ve wanted to learn delivered by a friend.  His absurdly true pizza delivery story – you have to ask him about it – is a great analogy for understanding promises.  James sets the story up right, and it’s an analogy many of us pizza fans can follow.  Thanks to this talk, I can understand promises enough to apply them to code and write curriculum for them – it was a nudge in the right direction.

Conclusion

This was my first KCDC, and I hope it isn’t my last!  Jon, Boon, Lee, and Jeff really take care of their speakers and put on a great conference.  It was great to network with others, meet the KC tech community, and learn about new (to me) technologies.  I am inspired to create some new talks and take on new adventures based on what I learned.  Thanks, Kansas City Developer Conference, for having me!  This is on my list of conferences to try to get to every year.