Last Friday I attended a Dutch developer conference called Joy of Coding, which was held in Rotterdam. I had a great time, was really inspired by some of the keynotes and other sessions, and I’d like to share my experiences. I’ve decided to make this a 2 part blog post: in this first part I’ll lay out how the conference was organized, and in the second part I’ll zoom in on the content.
Maybe the most striking fact about Joy of Coding is that it was organized by a team of (9) volunteers. Despite this, it was a very ‘professional’ conference. The volunteers are all from Devnology, a group of software developers in The Netherlands. Their tagline: “Community Driven Development”. From their mission statement:
Devnology aims to provide the Dutch software development community with opportunities to exchange knowledge and experience. We aim to bridge the gap between theory and practice of software development.
Devnology organizes many events during the year, most of them of the meetup kind (compare with sapcodejam events). After having attended Joy of Coding and doing a bit of research on their website I’m convinced any aspiring Dutch software developer should at least register on their site and pick some of the events to attend. I know I will!
Back to the conference: one of the advantages of being organized by a non-profit organization: there is no profit to be made. Thus prices can be kept low and attendance very affordable. Also: there’s no need to grow bigger and attract more attendees each year. The result: a very intimate atmosphere where networking is encouraged.
In a sense the conference already started on Thursday evening with a meetup in a local beer house, Locus Publicus International. This is a great way to start a conference, especially a one day event, because it allows you to meet other attendees in a relatively informal setting. We had 2 speakers: local hero Peter Hilton talking about “How to name things: the hardest problem in programming”, and renowned conference speaker Kevlin Henney: “Clean Coders Hate What Happens To Your Code When You Use These Enterprise Programming Tricks”. Both of them clearly know how to entertain an audience, and as a result the whole evening was a great deal of fun. What made it even better: the meetup started at 7PM, and thanks to the easy way to connect and communicate on meetup.com I was able to arrange dinner at 6PM with some other attendees I’d never met before. Which proved to be a great icebreaker!
To finish off the food part: on Friday there was also the opportunity to have some food (pizza and fries, it’s a developer conference remember?) afterwards, which encouraged everyone to stay a bit longer and discuss the conference. Again, an excellent idea and in sharp contrast with many events that end after the last talk and leave everyone with a feeling of “Is this all?”. Talking about the food, despite it being nerdy (on purpose), allowances were made to cater for people who wanted halal food or had other dietary requirements. This goes to show the professionalism of the event.
Code of Conduct
Another plus about the conference was the very clear Code of Conduct, which opened with:
All attendees, speakers, hosts, sponsors and volunteers (further referred to as participants) involved in our events are subject to the following code of conduct. We will enforce this code throughout our events and expect cooperation from all participants to help ensure a safe environment for all.
There were four parts to it:
We are dedicated to providing harassment-free events for everyone, regardless of gender, age, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, or religion (or lack thereof). We do not tolerate harassment of participants in any form.
Harassment includes offensive verbal comments related to gender, age, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race or religion, sexual images in public spaces, deliberate intimidation, stalking, following, harassing photography or recording, sustained disruption of talks or other events, inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention.
Participants asked to stop any harassing behaviour are expected to comply immediately.
WE WILL HELP
If you are being harassed, notice that someone else is being harassed, or have any other concerns, please contact one of the organisers immediately. We will make sure that during our conferences the organisers can be easily identified, for example through recognisable t-shirts.
If you are travelling to or from our event, and during the event, we will be happy to help you contact hotel/venue security or local law enforcement, provide escorts, or otherwise assist those experiencing harassment to feel safe for the duration of our event. We value your attendance and will take serious any breach of this code of conduct.
NO OFFENSIVE CONTENT
It is not appropriate to link any offensive content, such as sexual language and imagery, to our events in any form, including talks, workshops, parties, Twitter and other online media. Speakers are asked to review their material and be considerate and friendly to a diverse audience.
NO ALCOHOL ABUSE
Thanks to the help of our sponsors, food and drinks are often freely available during or after our events. We hope this will be appreciated and used in good spirits, but we ask you to drink responsibly.
Parts of this Code of Conduct were taken from http://confcodeofconduct.com/. After the conference (during dinner!) I asked one of the organizers whether there had been any incidents leading to such a clear statement, but he told me there hadn’t been real incidents before, it’s just that they felt the need to explicitly communicate the expected and required behaviour. This Code of Conduct was mentioned in all email communication, and I applaud their efforts to make the conference a safe environment for all.
The program consisted of a healthy mix of keynotes (50 min), talks (30 min) and workshops (1h 50min):
Credit: Jettro Coenradie from Joy Of Coding organizing committee
As you can see, there were four parallel tracks, which made it easy to find something interesting. One of the best aspects of Joy of Coding is the lack of focus on any specific technology/stack. It’s really about general software development, and that makes it also interesting for developers from the SAP community. In my opinion it isn’t a conference to learn specific stuff to apply in your day job the next week, as well as it is about coding as an art, as a way to model the world, or to have some fun. To emphasize this aspect there were workshops on Game Development, Music & Programming, Collaborative Art via Programming, etc. I went to the conference with the idea to get inspired and wasn’t disappointed. Of course I also learned tons of stuff 🙂 . More about the content (at least the sessions I attended) in the follow up post.
But let me already point you to InfoQ. They recorded every session from the main stage, and will publish the videos (incl slides) eventually on their website.
To emphasize the fun aspect of Joy of Coding there was live sketching, performed by Getekend Verslag (“Sketched Report” in English?!):
Credit: Joy Of Coding organizing committee, larger version of image available here (9.1MB)
All in all it was a great conference, executed flawlessly, and in my opinion we’re are very lucky to have such a conference in The Netherlands.
So: a big THANK YOU to Devnology and the organizing committee, and I hope to be able to attend the 2016 edition as well!