Review of Craft Conf 2017

Since it started in 2014, Craft Conf has been one of my absolute fix-points in regards to Software Conferences each year.

With a focus on Software Craftsmanship and a mindset for improvement, the conference has steadily grown and attracts some of the best speakers from all around the world. It is usually exceptionally well organized and cheap enough to be able to afford it on a private budget.

The presented topics are usually broad, but reflect the current trends in the industry, which makes the conference accessible to software professionals from many different fields and with different experience levels.

This year was my fourth time attending Craft in the wonderful city of Budapest with some friends and it was a blast :)

The venue at the Railway Museum is a good mix between a practical location, which provides enough space for the vast number of attendees and a beautiful space to chill out and look at some trains in the breaks.

Organizationally, Craft has always been on point regarding it communication style and schedule and this year was no exception. Food in Budapest is usually a non-issue because Hungarian cuisine and their mindset toward food is great and you can be sure to have something tasty to eat in vast quantities at all times. :)

Day 1

The first day started off with a morning keynote by Amazon’s Tim Wagner, which was a bit disappointing, as the talk seemed like a long version of an AWS Lambda advertisement instead of a mindset-improving keynote. I guess the financial realities of hosting an event of this scale require trade-offs like this, but it was still a bit of a bummer.

Fortunately, the great Damien Conway more than made up for the botched morning keynote by delivering a fun and inspiring experience with his evening keynote Fun With Dead Languages showing us, among other things, the power of Executable Latin ;)

Some other highlights for me on day 1 included Christopher Grayson’s Talk Started in Security, Now I’m here, where he gave some insight into the journey from a security professional to the development side of things and provided some interesting perspective on how to collaborate between development and security teams.

Frank Wang’s talk Building Cryptographically Secure Web Application Systems highlighted some interesting state of the art research topics within cryptography as well as two intriguing projects with Splinter and Sieve.

Another talk I really liked on the first day was Melissa Perri’s The Build Trap. Anyone who has had the pleasure to enjoy one of Melissa Perri’s talks knows the great way in which she presents and brings across her points. This talk was no exception and provided some great food for thought on the topic of creating value by experimenting and measuring instead of just pushing out features.

I also enjoyed Diogo Monica’s talk Secret Distribution in a Containerized World, in which he outlined the great effort behind making it even conceivable to have secure secrets inside a distributed cluster.

Day 2

I enjoyed the topics on day 1 more than on day 2, but I guess that’s mostly due to personal preference regarding what interests me right now.

Notable talks for me on day 2 include the great Adrian Colyer’s The Morning Paper - foundations and frontiers in computer science research, where he explained some of the benefits of reading scientific papers, even as a practitioner and showed a few interesting samples from his blog.

Another talk I liked was Anastasiia Voitova’s Keys from the castle: ancient art of managing keys and trust, which explained the intricacies of dealing with trust and keys in mobile applications and beyond. Not only was the talk informative and well researched, but the slides were just amazing. :)

In Taming the Browser, Peter Nemeth gave a very interesting insight into Prezi’s work with Emscripten to build a high-performance graphical application for the web. This was especially interesting for me, as I haven’t had the opportunity to play around with asm.js or WebAssembly yet.

The end of the conference was marked by Theo Schlossnagle’s evening keynote Better engineering via better discourse where he, in his uniquely entertaining and thought-provoking way, called upon developers to improve their communication. He urged to attack ideas, not people and to try and get useful ideas even from destructive and otherwise useless criticism.

Conclusion

Another year, another great Craft experience. Craft Conf is and has been THE one conference I schedule well ahead of time and which I consider an absolute must-attend.

It is also my go-to conference if someone asks me for great tech conferences, as it continues to deliver at a very high level.

Thank You to the Craft Conf team for the awesomeness that was 2017’s Craft :)

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