NDC 2011. Day 1


Let’s start with a declaration of intentions. I will do my best to be less bitchy. And less über-critic. In the past I have already complained about my writings over the conferences I have attended so I will do my best to focus more on the content and less about my biased opinion of the speaker.
And no, it is neither because I fear someone else’s opinion about me being on the spotlight nor because is more difficult to criticize someone when you know him a little bit better. Just so you know.


I already mentioned: a bit “meh” for my taste. Everyone loves “The Gu”. He is awesome. But he is too “good” and mild mannered. I believe that a keynote has to be more than correct. It has to inject energy in the audience, it has to make people wow and cheer and set the mood for the rest of the event. But this one didn’t.

Yes, it was nice to see some of the infrastructure that supports Microsoft’s cloud offering, but it is just because we are big babies that love big toys. And yes it was alright to get an application deployed live to “The Cloud in the Sky”.
But I feel The Gu could have projected more energy.

Cognitive Bias and Effects You Should Know About

A not strictly technical session to start my day. Weird? Well, Kevlin Henney is one of my favorites speakers ever, be it a technical topic or not.

The session revolved around the fact that we, developers, as most human beings, are, well, humans. And our brains, senses and evolutionary baggage (no room for creationists here) plays against some of the tasks we need to do in our day to day jobs: estimating, learning, statistics…
Interesting stuff. Now, I am “officially” entitled to blame someone else for my own screw-ups: my genetic lineage.

When Less is More - Agile Web Architecture

I felt kind of ambivalent towards this talk. I liked the subjacent ideas and mindset very much, but I profoundly disliked the example to support it.

“Do as little as possible”, “defer decisions until last responsible moment” and “simplify your approach to development” are ideas I fancy a lot, having suffered from my own stupidity quite a few times when overcomplicating stuff.
But, on the other hand, I had this uneasiness inside me watching at some of the decisions taken on stage to throw some weight away from a web architecture. Call me old-fashioned, but ditching the MVC pattern someone offered you out-of-the box because is too noisy, just to be replaced it with some Javascript templating voodoo and navigation mumbo-jumbo makes not a lot of sense to me.
Yes, you can knock down some music store pages quickly, but when your requirements go just a little bit further and you need to change your strategy anyway, you end up with an hybrid application and some data that you will have to migrate to the slightly new approach.

Hardly what I call effectiveness.

Test-driven Javascript in Practice

Last year I attended a similar session on the same topic. I kind of ended up declaring the session a failure. This year it was way better.
To start with, the example made a lot more sense. And that is a game changer in itself. Besides, there were no glitches with the tooling and that made the complete experience more coherent (my bias here being that I have been doing more Javascript since last year and the tooling is less alien to me).

As a side note, although he could not answer some of my questions, someone that overheard them was offering some other possibilities the very next day when we bumped on each other. Isn’t that awesome? Someone thinking about your problems and trying to help out? That is the beauty of this type o conferences.

Evolutionary Design Illustrated

The last one of the day was my chance to know in person someone I have read a lot: James Shore.

I have to agree with him that the topic is a tough one to show in one-hour sessions. And I kind of like seeing people struggle and admit defeat in public. I do that quite a few times. Yes, because I am wrong more often than I should. And yes, because there is no shame in showing what you learned the hard way. And I was blown away by some of the animations used to exemplify the design over time, good stuff.
And yet I have to admit that showing your code is not nearly as fun for the audience as it is for you. Been there, done that.