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A Train of Thought – QCon San Francisco 2008

I’ve been at QCon San Francisco most of the week, and I think I can say that content wise, it’s the best “eyes forward” conference I’ve ever attended.  I’m finished with all my speaking and relatively satisfied with how it went.  All the talks were filmed and will appear on InfoQ.com at some point.

As always, everybody I talk to is working on a more interesting project than I am, but that’s just a case of the grass always being greener on the other side of the hill.  I don’t have much at the minute, but here’s a start on a wrapup.  I’ll catch up on StructureMap requests and emails over the weekend for all of you waiting on something from me.

 

The Highlights

  • Martin Fowler and Rebecca Parsons talk on reconciling enterprise architects with Agile processes.  I think they made a very good case for using incremental delivery mechanisms and the transparency that Agile can provide to aid architects.  Buuuuuuttttttt, in order for their recommendations to work, I think that large companies will have to dramatically change their attitudes towards the people that build software.  Hands on skills and application architecture skills have to be held in much more regard by many companies than it is today.
  • Seeing some Google Web Toolkit in action at a talk from Alex Moffat (fellow Austinite it turns out).  I’ve always blown off the tools that try to hide Javascript, but I’m intrigued by GWT.
  • The Volta talk.  There was a lot of (highly justified) dubiousness in the room, but it’s interesting.
  • Jay Fields DSL talk. 
  • Don Syme showing how 30-40 lines of C# could be accomplished in 2 lines of F#
  • Tim Bray’s talk on alternative storage devices.  It’s possible, possible I say, that you and I may build a significant system someday that does not run against a relational database.

 

Just Be Thoughtful

In my Evolution of a Developer post a couple weeks ago, I had a question in the comments:

So how do you recommend training an eager kid out of college with little or no experience to get through these steps quickly?

In typical me fashion, I didn’t get a response together in a timely manner, but I will now.  Be thoughtful about your work.  Experience is the greatest teacher, but not all experience is created equal.  When you do software projects or assignments, and especially something challenging or big, reflect upon it later.  What would you do differently?  Why?  Why did you choose to do it the way that you did for that matter?

I had the pleasure of attending one of Kent Beck’s talks here at QCon.  It wasn’t anything revolutionary or even informative to be honest, but what I saw was one of the masters of our craft simply reflecting over how he made design decisions.  I think it’s a good example to follow.

From experience though, do watch out for the “second system syndrome.”

Favorite Exchange of the Week

  • Me:  Argh!  You should have told me that you were going to show me VB code!
  • Rod:  Relax, dude.  It’s just English.  We don’t use those hieroglyphics that you do (C#).

 

Big Systems

Someday, I’d really like another opportunity to build a really big, highly scalable type of application again.  But it’s much more important to my sanity to permanently stay out of big companies.  Oh well, I guess I’ll just settle for working in a very pleasant environment with people that I like.

About Jeremy Miller

Jeremy is the Chief Software Architect at Dovetail Software, the coolest ISV in Austin. Jeremy began his IT career writing "Shadow IT" applications to automate his engineering documentation, then wandered into software development because it looked like more fun. Jeremy is the author of the open source StructureMap tool for Dependency Injection with .Net, StoryTeller for supercharged acceptance testing in .Net, and one of the principal developers behind FubuMVC. Jeremy's thoughts on all things software can be found at The Shade Tree Developer at http://codebetter.com/jeremymiller.
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