17 Nov

My take on the Øredev 2010 conference

Category:UncategorizedTag: , :

Last week was the at the 6th annual installment of the Øredev developer conference in Malmö, Sweden. I was able to attend Wednesday thru Friday and had the opportunity to listen to a lot of great talks and have a lot of interesting conversations with the attendees. Being on its 6th year means that the conference should have had time to find its style and settle in – and let me tell you right now that it has defiantly done that.

The theme for this years conference was Get Real, that is described by the organizers as ”will shine a light on how to stay in balance, between today’s realities and tomorrow’s possibilities while the universe is in constant motion.”. Their way of doing that was by providing a total of 13 awesome tracks which were Java, .NET, Smart phones, Architecture, Cloud & nosql, Patterns, Web development, Social media, Agile, Collaboration, Realizing business ides, Software craftsmanship and the Xtra(ck).

The Xtra(ck) was this years little experiment and provided alternative sessions such as “Understanding Hypnosis”, “The taste of coffee”, “The language of MIDI and its application”, “Photo walk!” and many many more. I never attended any of these, there were just too many things I wanted to attend while at the conference, but hopefully they’ll keep the concept for next year and maybe I will get the opportunity to checkout a couple of sessions then.

This yeas 1400 people attended the conference, an impressive 40% increase in people compared to last year where the head count was about a 1000 people. That is quite an effort and the best part is that you did not notice any rapid growing pains at all, everything felt just as well organized as I’ve come to expect out of this conference.

One thing that worries me up front was the change of venue for this years conference. The change was necessary since the old venue is being knocked down, so that was not a viable option this year. The new venue was the Slagthuset (Swedish wikipedia entry) and it was able to house all of the attendees without feeling over crowded.

The one complaint I (and probably the rest of the attendees) have was that, because of how the large halls of the building were split into temporary session rooms by the help of temporary walls, the sound of the neighboring sessions bleed over to the one you were attending. It was not bad to the point where you were unable to follow along, but it was definitely noticeable. I hope this is resolved next year!

The keynotes

Each of the conference days started of with a keynote, and If I had to pick one area where this years conference really excelled, I would have to say the keynotes. This year they definitely out did themselves and lines up an awesome lines of speakers.

Dr. Jeffery Norris of NASA Jet Propulsion Lab, was the Wednesday speakers and talked about Mission-Critical Agility. In his talk he told the story about Alexander Graham Bell and how he invented the telephone. He talked about how Vision, Risk and Commitment are important parts of Mission-Critical Agility and intertwined those into the story of Alexander Graham Bell. He also talked about how NASA committed to being first with putting a man on the moon and how the lunar project ended up about not choosing the solution that seemed the most simple at first, but actually ending up picking the one that sounded like crazy talk. In the part about the lunar landing he made use of augmented reality with the help of ARTToolKit to visualize the complexity of the task. Check out the this youtube clip to see parts of what he did.

John Seddon had been invited as the Thursday keynote speaker and talked about Re-thinking IT. It can more of less be summed up as talk on how we as developers let IT get in the way of the real problems. How we often propose solutions to problems that do not yet exist. He talked about how we should focus on solving the business problems first and then moving them into IT, and not the other way around. A very well delivered talk, completely without slides! All of the attendees got his book Freedom from command and control as part of their Øredev goodie bag!

Nolan Bushnell spent his time as the Friday keynote speaker by talking about The then mega software project for the next 20 years. This is the same guy that founded the Atari Corporation and has been called the father of the video game industry. More or less a legend In our field and a very good public speaker. He talked about some of the big projects that we will be facing in the next ten years and the impact they will have in our industry and as a society at large.

The sessions

With a 3-day conference, consisting of 8 parallel tracks each day and 5-6 sessions each day (Friday had one less session than the other two days) it would be too much information to tell you exactly which sessions I attended and what my reflections of them were. For the most part all the sessions were great, there were only one that I walked out of.

There was always something coming up on the agenda that you wanted to attend and in many cases there were conflicting sessions. The good news is that all sessions were recorded and will be made available on the Øredev website over the next couple of weeks. So for me the conference is not really over, there are a bunch of sessions I want to watch and a couple that I would like to re-watch again!

I was also happy to see that the listener participation was quite high this year. There were many sessions where people asked a lot of questions during the talk and occasionally stepped up to help answer questions that caught the speakers of guard. I guess this is what you get in an open environment such as the one that Øredev delivers.

As always the conference uses the Red-Yellow-Green session evaluation system. Basically this is a very simple way for attendees to tell the speaker what they thought about the session. When you leave the room you are given the option of placing a red, yellow or green card in a box and that is it. I think the colors are self explaining so I will not go into any details on their meaning. I know that I personally hate filling in evolution forms, especially when you are going to attend almost 20 sessions in 3 days.

The highlight

To me, the single biggest highlight of this years conference is neither the sessions or the keynotes, even though both of them were excellent. The highlight this year is the fact that I got the opportunity to meet up with a lot of people that flew in from other parts of the world. Some I knew from before, others I have only known on my twitter account or on IM for a long time now.

Some of the people that I got to hang out with this year were Glenn Block, Jeremy D. Miller, Hadi Hariri, Philip Laureano, Rob Ashton, Brad Wilson whom all are awesome developers and people I have great respect for. There were a lot of good discussions and casual chit-chat during the 3-days at the conference.

However, the single biggest highlight was not part of the actual conference it self. On Monday I had the opportunity to take a day of work and spend the day with a long time friend, Glenn Block. Him living in the US and me living in Sweden does not give a lot of opportunities to hang out for a full day. Fortunately Glenn flew in early to the conference and took the train to the city where I live. He got the opportunity to meet my wife and kids, have a look around the city, visit the place where I work and see some of the things we do, get an introduction to the FakeItEasy mocking framework (developed by a guy I work with, Patrik Hägne and used in our daily work) and show us some of the REST stuff he is working with. All in all, an awesome day.


To sum it it, this years conference was great and I already look forward to next year! If you get the opportunity to visit the conference I would highly recommend that you take it. It is quickly getting known for a high-quality conference and I do not see that ending anytime soon. So thank you to everyone, the organizers, the speakers, the attendees and even all the people that works behind the scenes to make who made this possible, for making this year just as awesome as expected!

I will see you next year!

2 thoughts on “My take on the Øredev 2010 conference

  1. I couldn’t agree more to the opinion that the greatest thing about OreDev was meeting wonderful people and exchanging opinions with them. See you all next year 🙂

  2. It was a good conference and great to meet you finally in person. And can I say, you look FAR TOO young to already have two kids. Gave me a complex :).

Comments are closed.