Øredev 2007

As most of you know Jayway is one of the organizers of Øredev. Knowing that, and knowing how much we love our own conference, you might not trust our judgment in this review. We beg to differ, and ensure you that Øredev is just as enjoyable as we describe it in this article.

The Conference

During the last three years, Øredev has grown from a promising initiative to one of
the biggest IT-conferences in Scandinavia. During this year’s event, over 800 visitors
attended more than 100 events. To handle the increasing crowd, the conference was
held at a new location, MalmöMässan, which offered bigger and better conference
halls and more space for the show floor.
The location also offered a lack of heating in some rooms, which in the Swedish
November weather translates into cold conference halls. People kept chugging cof-
fee to keep warm, and everybody wished Oracle would hand out blankets instead
of bottle chillers.
As many as nine parallel tracks were available this year. Back from last year were:
Java, .NET, Methods & Tools, etc. In addition to these, Øredev 2007 offered several
new tracks such as Architecture, Case Studies and more. Especially refreshing were
the User Experience sessions, an important yet often overlooked topic.
Further indicating the growing status of the conference was the number of no-
table speakers that participated this year. The list included big names such as Andy
Hunt, Joel Spolsky, Kevlin Henney, James Coplien, Dan North, and Dr. Jeff Suth-
erland.
At the exhibition floor 26 companies were fighting for the visitors attention. The
innovation in terms of advertising varied ranging from plain old booths with posters
and free pens to elaborate coding competitions with iPods to win.
In spite of being an IT conference, there was only one robot on the show floor,
the SMErobot from Lund. Completely implemented in Java the robot was solving
sudoku and carving in wood taking it’s instructions from a piece of Anoto paper. As
a request for new functionality we would like to see the robot performing massage.
Should not be too hard to implement, considering that the platform is Java based.

The keynotes

Being a keynote speaker is always special. There are high expectations of both vi-
sions and entertainment. Being recognized in the business, you would better have a
good presentation up your sleeve. Although some of this years speeches contained
more wittiness than visions, there were three enjoyable keynotes to listen to.

Andy Hunt: How hard can it be?

Andy Hunt is well known as one of the 17 founders of the Agile Alliance and the
co-founder of the Pragmatic bookshelf.
During his opening keynote, Hunt asked the audience the infamous question
“How hard can it be?”. He answered the question himself by stating that there are
two different types of complexity, namely essential complexity and accidental com-
plexity. Essential complexity is the complexity required to do a job. It is something
that we all have to live with, some things are hard to achieve by nature. Accidental
complexity or unnecessary complexity on the other hand is something that is arti-
ficial. It should and can be prevented if it is recognized accordingly. There are many
possible reasons for accidental complexity; prejudices or ignorance, stress or lack of
motivation or even just bad luck. Regardless reason, the recipe to avoid accidental
complexity is always the same: rely on reliable things, make a purposeful plan and
stick to it.

Dan North: No Best Practices: Methodology for thinkers

Dan North is a renowned speaker from other conferences like JAOO, Agile and
OOPSLA in topics like learning theory and behaviour-driven design. The keynote
North gave at Øredev showed he has a rightful reputation.
As the title indicates, the main mantra in North’s presentation was that there is
no such thing as best practices. As he presented this theory the feeling was similar to

Keynote speaker Dan North

the scene in Dead Poet’s Society where the teacher asks his students to rip out the
first chapter of their text books.
As a basis for his claim, North explained the Dreyfus Model of Skill Acquisi-
tion. The Dreyfus Model is in itself an interesting topic and describes five different
stages in learning: Novice, Advanced Beginner, Competent, Proficient and Expert.
The novice is the stage of an absolute beginner who relies on rules and guidance to
be able to function whereas the Expert works based off intuition and knowledge at
the subconscious level that has been gathered through many years of work. The in-
teresting part is that the efficiency of people at the expert level is severely reduced if
they are bounded by the safe environments such as a “best practice” that the novice
needs. Best practices are in other words obstructing the people who are the best, the
experts, from doing their job effectively.

Joel Spolsky: Developing Great Software

Joel Spolsky has reached his biggest audience through his website joelonsoftware.
com. He is the founder of Fog Creek Software and has created FogBugz, a popular
project management system.
Ten seconds into his seminar, Spolsky immediately showed that he belongs to the
rare selection of people that knows how to make a powerpoint presentation that is
more than just a bunch of slides. As Spolsky brought up a huge picture of Victoria
Beckham on the first page, you knew that you were in for a treat. The topic of the
speech was the importance of good looking software.
Spolsky argued that no matter how good your software is, you will not reach
mass market unless it looks good. He illustrated this through various comparisons
of popular products. Particularly entertaining was the part where he brought up a
Windows XP simulation created entirely within the powerpoint presentation. One
could argue whether that was a good example to bring up in the context of his
speech. Windows is a product that doesn’t necessarily look good compared to one
of its main competitors (OS X), yet has a vastly larger market share. Nevertheless,
the display was impressive and produced lots of laughs from the audience as Spolsky
struggled with various pop-ups and failures in his powerpoint-driven “Windows”.
Even though his presentation clearly was more about entertainment than anything
else, he managed to state an important point: software needs to look good to suc-
ceed!

Keynote speaker Joel Spolsky

Sharing knowledge

Besides the keynotes the real knowledge sharing was made in the around 80 semi-
nars and in the exhibition hall.
Following the Java track we witnessed the official launch of the Qi4J framework,
introducing Composite Oriented programming, redefining the way we use OOP
today. The new concepts that Qi4J bring are not obvious, even to somebody with
extensive Java experience. We are hoping that Qi4J for dummies will turn up in our
local book store soon.
We also got a first glimpse of Java FX Script, the new GUI framework from
SUN. It has been developed to provide an alternative to the clunky looking Swing
interfaces. Although not yet mature, it is meant to compete with technologies like
Flash and Silverlight.
Another interesting seminar was delivered by Neo Technology, showing us a new
and faster way to store data. Briefly, they have implemented a database using a net-
base, i.e. networks in Java rather than database tables. During the presentation, they
performed a simulated Facebook relation search outclassing a traditional database
by the magnitude of a million.
Identifying some of the trends using Java as a platform rather than as a language is
becoming big. More lightweight languages and scripts such as JRuby on Rails make
use of the Java platform. Domain Driven Design and Web 2.0 (still) were other buz-
zwords that floated around in the lecture halls. As always at Øredev there was a big
focus on open source. The business is changing more towards using and developing
open source frameworks incorporating community thinking into their development
process. There were several seminars that both presented new functionality within
existing frameworks and showed smart ways of using existing technologies. One
example was the demonstration of the new batch framework in Spring.
Sitting in on some of the test and project management seminars a couple of key-
words emerged over and over again, namely “agile” and “test driven”. Even though
most people know that these methods increase productivity and quality of the code,
a quick audience survey showed that there are still few development teams that
actually have incorporated these into their processes. Apparently, it is still tricky to
convince your boss that agile development actually does bring huge winnings.

Evening activities

After a full day of new knowledge, inspiring lectures and networking the stage was
taken by the UK stand-up comedian Shazia Mirza. Mirza is a highly acclaimed co-
median and a columnist for the New Statesman. She was recently profiled on CBS
‘60 minutes and has performed all over Europe and USA. Mirza put on a great show
not being the least shy or politically correct, even though she was, as she put it, “the
only Asian woman amongst 600 computer nerds”.
Some great laughs later it was back to business with late evening “Birds Of Feath-
ers” (BOFs), making full flown eagles out of the feathers of knowledge we had been
given during the conference. Some of us joined Owen Taylor at Gigaspaces, making
a complete Gigaspace storage run on our laptops. We were given a chance to try
out this new technology together with one of it’s creators, enabling us to bring the
installation back home for further experiments and tests. We got (and still have) a
good possibility to look under the hood of the magic this product brings, at least that
is promised by Taylor.
For the people that had enough of birds and feathers there was more entertain-
ment from our own band Rockway.

Stand-up comedian Shazia Mirza

Workshops

There were many that sought a hands-on experience with the material that was
presented during Øredev, and all participants were given a chance to follow up the
lectures with a variety of workshops. The most popular one was the full Scrum certi-
fication course held by Dr Jeff Sutherland, one of the main creators and preachers of
the Scrum methodology. Another popular workshop was a full day of Qi4J training
allowing programmers to try out the newly launched framework. Andy Hunt also
followed up his lecture on refactoring wetware, i.e. the human mind, with a three
hour workshops, allowing the participants to try out some of the concepts that will
increase productivity and make more efficient use of our brain cells. Hunt presented
a bunch of mind tricks that would have come very handy earlier in the conference.

Finally

The yearly Øredev conference is a source of inspiration to an increasing amount of
people. As an employee in the IT sector it is a great opportunity to get access to all
the knowledge presented at the conference, get hands-on with new technologies
and share the visions of some of the biggest names in the business. We tend to spend
more and more time behind our screens, teaching ourselves new tools, technologies
and reinventing the wheel. With Øredev there is a possibility to meet like-minded
people, share experiences and last but not least, to network. Adding new contacts on
your favorite social website is an important goal as any.
Besides the large amount of participants attending there is an increasing number
of exhibitors from all over the world. Be sure to sign up for next year, because the
conference will keep on growing, not only in the number of participants, but also
in importance. There is no better way to keep up to speed with the ever changing
market. Hopefully, the heat will be switched on in all seminar rooms by then.
Until next Øredev…

Øredev

Stefan Li, Jakob Klamra, Mattias Severson

Originally published in JayView.

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