Why you should go to a conference in person

Posted by Joep Weijers on September 12, 2023

TOPdesk provides each developer a budget and time to broaden and deepen their knowledge. I recommend to invest such a budget into visiting a conference in person.

Why attend conferences?

TOPdesk SEE conference
TOPdesk SEE conference

In an industry that is changing as fast as the software industry, it is imperative to keep your knowledge up to date. A conference is one of the tools to stay informed on what is happening in the industry. Other examples include reading blogs, following industry leaders on Twitter, or listening to podcasts. A conference bundles a year worth of innovations and best practices and offers then in a one or multi day package.

Sessions are usually lecture style, but some conferences feature workshops, panel debates or small scale discussions. You can broaden your knowledge, by attending sessions on topic you don’t yet know much about (I learned at KubeCon that OWASP has released an OWASP Kubernetes Top 10). Or you can dive deep with expert level sessions given by the most knowledgeable in the field (like a session on documentation that posed that No documentation is better than bad documentation). And usually there are a few light-hearted sessions to break up the intensity of absorbing knowledge, like how to get 0 reported vulnerabilities by tricking your vulnerability scanner.

This knowledge is an investment not only for you as a person, but also for the company you work for. Some of the things you’ll see at a conference can be applied in your company and will improve your work.

Why attend conferences in person?

The food is great at some conferences. But if you go for the food, it would be much cheaper to go to a restaurant. So what does an in-person conference offer?

You can meet up with colleagues from different branches. A yearly trip to the Devoxx conference used to be a gathering of the Dutch, German and Hungarian developers. Nowadays people prefer more local conferences, which I’ll list below.

You may also run into former colleagues. It is always really interesting to catch up on the challenges and wins in their new companies. Share some tips and tricks, especially when you find out that a former colleague now has a similar role as you and runs into issues you have solved before.

At a conference there are also usually booths that feature vendors who may demo interesting solutions. It also gives you a chance to meet up with vendors you are already working with. This really offers a low barrier interaction with vendors. And goodies.

Which conference to attend?

There are so many conferences, but I’ll list the ones were you may run into people from TOPdesk. If you see us: don’t be shy, say hi!

Devoxx: biggest European Java conference. Focus on Java, but also has topics surrounding Java, like frontend, CI/CD, etcetera. 8 concurrent tracks to choose talks from. And an opportunity to visit Antwerp and enjoy the food and drinks.

JFall: biggest Dutch Java one day conference, with booths of all the Dutch Java companies. Features many sessions that appear the week after at Devoxx. Good alternative if Devoxx is sold out.

JavaLand: biggest German Java conference. A very good variety of sessions. Downside: not a lot of English sessions, most are in German. Upside: it is held in the theme park Phantasialand, and some of the rides are opened in the evening.

KubeCon: huge conference about the entire Cloud Native Ecosystem (a.k.a. Kubernetes and related tools), with many solutions. Sessions range from beginner 101 courses to hour-long, very deep dives.

CraftConf: I’ve personally never been there, but our Hungarian colleagues says it’s good, with great talks and speakers.

About the author: Joep Weijers

Joep is a Developer Experience Engineer at TOPdesk with a keen interest in delivering quality software continuously. He loves playing around with Jenkins Pipelines, GitLab CI, Selenium, Docker, Kubernetes and keeps in touch with his inner developer by educating his colleagues on testable Java code.

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