After Carl Lerche gave his keynote, I went to the first session on “Escaping the Sludgy Swamp of Slow Tests” by Joseph Wilk. The speaker discussed a couple of techniques on how to dramatically speed up your acceptance tests. There was some great advice there, some of which I haven’t considered myself. You know, I had a couple of ‘aha’ moments followed by a couple of ‘why didn’t I think of that before?’. Although he mostly used Cucumber throughout his talk, the content was generally applicable to acceptance/integration tests on other platforms as well.
The next session I attended was about refactoring by Alain Ravet. As someone who continuously refactors his code, I was curious to see how these techniques are perceived and applied in other communities. There are many similarities there, so for me personally, there was not a whole lot of new stuff in this session. I also disagreed on some of the claims about code readability. Nonetheless, this was a nice talk with a great speaker.
Then it was already time for the last full session. I went to a talk from Drew Neil, who is the producer of the Vim casts, titled “Vim – walking without crutches”. This talk was the highlight of my day. Very entertaining and the way he showed how to use Vim looked so easy that even I could understand. I realized that I definitely have to look into how Vim can make me more productive during my day-to-day coding. Both thumbs up for this session. Drew Neil also announced that he’s writing a book called Practical Vim for the Pragmatic Programmers.
After a very tasty mohjito during the cocktail break, we witnessed another six lightning talks the last of which was about rebooting the Belgian Ruby User Group (B.R.U.G.). It’s very nice to see that the Ruby community here in Belgium is trying to regroup itself. As quite the Ruby noob, I’m definitely interested in attending a couple of their monthly gatherings.
Finally there was the closing keynote by Yehuda Katz which is one of the members of the Ruby on Rails core team, lead developer of the Merb project, a member of the jQuery core team and better know as one of the authors of jQuery in Action. I felt really humble when I heard this guy talk about web development. At that moment, I realized that I have a lot of learning ahead of me if I ever want to become a proficient web developer. Great stuff!
As a member of the .NET community, it was a very humbling experience to step out of my comfort zone and join a bunch of people who are really passionate about web development and listen to the discussions there. I was very much surprised by the high-quality content brought by a selection of awesome speakers for a ridiculous small amount of money. In fact, I took a day off from work and paid for the registration fee myself.
I hereby want to encourage other developers from the Belgian .NET community to attend this little conference next year, especially when you’re heavily involved with web development. Some of the discussions that went on there are also very much needed in the .NET community as well. We need to learn more about this so we can start bringing some of this stuff over to the .NET world.
My complements to the organizers for a job well done. Till next year.
Update: The recordings for some of the sessions are now online.