This is a personal and opinionated summary of my attendance of the OSCON conference this year.
I was looking forward to this conference, was hoping to learn what is hot and trendy in the open source world right now. To some extent I got that. I was very impressed by the talks of Sam Aaron - live coding with Sonic Pi. Very interesting approach, live coding to make music with Raspberry Pi. Plus, Sam is a very enthusiastic character who makes talking about technical stuff a fun thing. Do you know why he did that? When he was asked about his work in a pub over a beer and said he’s a developer, he got reactions he wasn’t happy with - now he can say he is a DJ, which is way cooler ;-)
(That’s only part of the story. He also does that to teach kids about coding as well as music, he works together with schools and institutions in England.)
Another inspiring session was the Inner Source one by Paypal: Let’s apply open source practices to your own organization internally. Have others (outside your project, product core team etc.) participate - while having trusted committers (recommendation is 10% of your engineers) to keep direction and control. This might be an approach for us internally, to share code and knowledge. Also, to avoid finger pointing: We all can participate and can identify ourselves with code.
Also on my top list of sessions: Growth Hacking by David Arnoux. Again, partly because David is someone who can talk and present, is passionate about what he does (and that’s something I missed in other talks). Growth hacking is a modern approach to marketing, focused on growth, everything else is second. It uses unconventional approaches to achieve that. An example is Airbnb, which used to piggyback Craigslist (without them knowing) which was way more popular at the beginning.
Writing code that lasts as a session topic is not something that attracts me. It’s another session about how to write better code, some low level coding guidelines we all agree on and way to often ignore. But out of better alternatives on the conference schedule, I went - and was surprised. Again, Rafael is a guy who knows how to engage with people, that helped a lot ;-)
One of his rules: Do not use else. Let your code handle one thing and focus on that. Also, focus on the major use case first and don’t try to anticipate every little possibility up front. A bit like the microservice approach (do one thing and one thing well), but on a smaller scale.
All in all a worthwhile session.
Apart from that I was excited about day 3, the tutorial day. I booked myself into the GO workshop in the morning and Kubernetes in the afternoon. Well, GO was ok, but very junior level and basically the same you can find as tutorials on the web already. Kubernetes might have been interesting, but it was assumed you have a Google Cloud account with credit card attached - which I didn’t have and didn’t want just for the sake of a tutorial. Therefore he lost me after 10 mins and I was behind from the start…
Overall I enjoyed my time at OSCON. It’s always good to meet up with others, get inspired. But in total the quality of the sessions differed a lot and the tutorials, as stated, were disappointing.