Back from QCon

March 15th, 2008  |  Published in commentary, conferences, erlang  |  Bookmark on

I just returned home from QCon London, and its excellence exceeded my expectations. As usual, the quality of speakers QCon attracts (just like JAOO) is outstanding, and they cover a very wide variety of topics.

Kent Beck‘s keynote was excellent. It was about developer responsibility, developer integrity, and the relationships developers have with those around them (here’s a good summary). Extremely insightful, not unexpectedly of course, and covering important topics that are unfortunately often taboo among technical folk.

It’s been awhile since I spent any quality time with Kent, but we did manage to sneak off to a back room at the speaker party on Thursday evening and get 20 minutes or so of conversation in, which is better than nothing. Given that the first two to drop in were Jim Webber and Joe Armstrong, though, neither of us minded the extra company. Generally, though, I think I could easily spend a couple solid days talking to Kent about development issues.

I spoke in Stefan Tilkov‘s track on Thursday, and I thought it went OK. Stefan has already provided detailed notes on each talk (except his own, which was really good) on his blog, so I won’t bother with repeating any of that. I got to meet Paul Fremantle in person for the first time, which was nice, though I have to say I remain puzzled by his “REST is too hard for the average developer” claim he made in his talk, since it definitely doesn’t match my recent experiences with watching others learn it and apply it. I’ve heard Sanjiva say the same thing before as well, so I wonder if it’s just something they keep telling themselves, hoping it will come true if they repeat it enough. ;-)

On Friday I thoroughly enjoyed Simon Peyton-Jones‘s Haskell talk and Joe Armstrong‘s Erlang talk. Both were excellent speakers, and both talks ventured into areas that I’m sure many of the attendees were not familiar with, so I’m sure most everyone who listened learned a lot. Thankfully there were no “Haskell vs. Erlang” wars, but that’s not surprising given that Simon and Joe are friends, plus they know that that argument serves neither language.

The best part of the week, though, was getting to meet and hang out with Joe and other Erlang folk. Joe’s really an excellent guy. He’s quite energetic, and his brain just doesn’t stop. He’s curious about a lot of technical things beyond Erlang, and I found discussions with him to be full of interesting questions and insights. Given the fact that I work with Erlang quite a lot these days, my hope going in was simply that I’d get a chance to just say hi to him, but I turned out to be lucky enough to spend many hours with him over the course of the conference. I also met Francesco Cesarini, a well-known and long-time Erlang consultant, whom I’m sure has probably forgotten more Erlang than I’ve learned so far. I also met Alexis Richardson, who works on RabbitMQ, the right way to implement AMQP. Francesco graciously invited me to speak at the Erlang Exchange this summer, so I’ll be seeing them all again before too long to talk even more about what’s quickly become one of my favorite programming languages.

Congrats to Floyd, Kresten, and the whole QCon team for putting on yet another excellent conference. I’m looking forward to JAOO Australia (in both Brisbane and Sydney) next!

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