Joy of Coding

Despite attending quite a few conferences the last few years I didn’t write about any of them since I went to decentralize.js almost two years ago.

But now is a good time to return to this habit since Joy of Coding was one of those conferences that stands out from the crowd. This is for several reasons:

  • Firstly the whole theme of the conference is so positive. Talking about joyfulness in something that you do for a living is really a good thing.
  • Because of this positive stance it seems like the speaker lineup is better than usual. And this is despite this conference having several tracks. (I see a strong correlation between the number of tracks and the overall quality of a conference. The best conferences are single track. Ok - maybe FOSDEM is the exception….)
  • Lastly I really like that there are opportunities to do some coding. Just listening a full day is too boring for me.

So I went to the coding dojo and here I really knew what to expect since I have been to sessions lead by Emily Bache before. I found a nice guy to pair up with and we had some fun refactoring bad tennis code into something neater. For me the most interesting thing from these sessions is not the code but the interaction with a stranger over code. The negotiation over language, IDE and keyboard initially and then the initial stumbling to establish the skill level involved. Also being expressive about code can be hard at times. To explain why you want it it in a certain way.

On to the talks. Philip Wadler talked enthusiastically and interestingly about category theory and why it is important for programmers. I have to admit that all this is a bit over my head at the moment (after being a programmer for some 16 years….) but maybe I will get there eventually. I get sort of all of what he is saying but fail miserably at making the connections to my everyday work situation. But the may be because my customers never wants me to code in a so called real programming language. He ended the talk by morphing into a lambda super hero. And that was fun of course!

After the dojo Corey Haines talked about prolog and cats and it was fun and all good. Corey is a talented speaker that probably could talk about anything and make it interesting. In this case the topic is intersting in itself and I started to think about how to implement roman numerals with prolog.

Stefan Tilkov talked about micro services built with clojure. As always when I hear a talk about clojure I want to get home and learn it. I have the book….. Maybe it happens this time. But it has been 6 years now since I heard Rich Hickey talk about it at JAAO.

Hobby Oriented Programming was an interesting talk by Sonja Heinen about the contrast betwen doing things for fun as a hobby and doing it to pay the bills. I can certainly relate to this. Not every day at my customers site is joyful. And most of the time when I do something on the side it is really fun and fulfilling. This dilemma is hard to get by. For me it is realy important to get some leisure time for coding. Otherwise I get mad at the boringness of coporate coding.

Then a fun talk about GIF - the image format that keeps giving. Igor Wiedler managed to give as a short history lesson about image formats and browsers, describe the GIF format in technical detail and also be really entertaining in some 40 minutes.

Lastly the ending talk was about data analysis. Hilary Parker suggested that data analysts should become better at programming. I think this is a great idea. Not everyone is as keen to learn R as I am. Not everyone is keen to learn at all and by acquiring some coding skills a data analyst can do her job much more efficiently.

All in all a great conference that I may come back to another year. My first encounter with Rotterdam was also much better than expected. A modern city with a nice vibe.