Building Stuff in 2014 - my perspective

If you expect a detailed review of the conference, you'll be disappointed - I will not enumerate all the speakers nor summarize every session I've participated in - it would be pretty pointless to be honest. I'm going to put some brief bullets with the key observations I have - hopefully something both participants & non-participants will find amusing. And if you (by any chance) have no clue what is Build Stuff 2014, we're talking about the most significant (and most likely biggest) software craftsmanship conference in Center & Eastern Europe.

What kind of conference is it?

  • no white collars
  • no bullshit marketing
  • no "weaseling" (you read Dilbert, right?)
  • just people who build stuff
  • each technology / platform / language is welcome, as long as it can be used to "build stuff"

Practicioners for practicioners & with practicioners, no artificial boundaries - one, big communitity. Hell'yea. OMG that sounds hippie :)

Was it worthy?

Yes, without any doubt. But let's make it clear: most likely this conference won't be a milestone in the history of computer science & software development. No new trend has emerged (well, who knows ...), nothing spectacular was announced / published - but it WAS NOT the point. The purpose of participating in such an event is not just learning new stuff (which is very important OFC), but also:

  • meeting people who do similar stuff, face similar challenges, but may bring some new light to what you do
  • meeting people who do different stuff you haven't heard / cared before, but in the end it appears interesting / useful
  • getting (re-)energized
  • getting (re-)inspired
  • having some fun ;D (yes, some sessions are aimed for pure, geeky entertainment)

In my case: all above have happened. Pure win.

Who was there?

Speaker line-up was damn impressive. I'll just mention few interesting speakers, but there were many more:

I feel somehow obliged to start with Greg Young - as actually he's the "father" & "founder" of this conference. Known as the initiator of CQRS pattern (/approach?/paradigm?/movement?). Some find him too opinionated, some are clearly irritated by his everlasting self-confidence, but in the end no-one can deny the clear fact: Greg is a very smart guy, great speaker & there's no chance to get bored on his session.

Another dev-world celebrity present at BS is Eric Evans - known as "the guy who has started DDD", author of the famous blue book -> if you want to learn something about modeling & modern trends in software design, there's really hard to find a more significant authority these days.

But that's just a begining - some other notable names on the list of speakers:

What was the most awesome?

  1. Range of topics - it doesn't matter what you were looking for: conference had 5 parallel session tracks, so you were always able to pick something sexy - whether it was FP, reactive programming, machine learning, distributed computing, DevOps or humorous rant ;>

  2. Great atmosphere - friendly & relaxed. There was a lot of time (& space) to chat around (conf lasted for 3 full days) and many opportunities to do so (orgs worked hard to fill the venue with additional attractions & "after-hours activities" :D).

  3. Professional approach - I've seen many conferences and ... well, things were happening. I've seen speakers who were unprepared, speakers who didn't give an f-word, speakers who had some personal issues they felt obliged to manifest to the whole world. But none of those happened at BS (or at least - I haven't noticed).

What can be changed to make BS2015 even better?

  1. Don't misunderstand me - Vilnius (as a city in general) is awesome - beautiful & adorable. BUT 2nd part of November is a poor time of the year for a trip there: it's quite cold (temperature drops below zero) & snowy - it's not a big deal, but another time of they year would made the visit in Lithuania more enjoyable :) Buil Stuff 2015 in May or September would be perfect :)

  2. The site with the schedule & evaluation feedback forms was crashing & sometimes its response times were, well ..., suboptimal.

  3. I didn't win the Build Stuff jumper in the raffle at the end! Outrageous! And definitely a showstopper :)

Well, I don't really have any more notable cons (if you find the ones above notable...) - this REALLY was a great conference. Of course I liked some talks more (De Smet about Rx, Seemann about TDD, Shoup about importance of org's culture, Rendle about ... hating developers ;>) & some talks less (Gabasova, Long, Brandolini), but my perception is a result of many (often personal) factors, so I believe that many others may have felt exactly opposite. And no sessions were total crap.

Final words

It was the time well-spent. I've enjoyed the conference & I have the high hopes for Build Stuff 2015 already. If you haven't been in Vilnius this year, some of videos have been recorded & will be published by InfoQ as a consolation. I suggest you reserve some time for watching, because it seems that famous A+B+C players theorem (by Steve Jobs, quoted at least once at BS 2014) maps well into learning:

  • A players prefer to learn from other A players, because they realize their own ignorance & are humble enough to have respect for other people's knowledge & experience
  • B players stick to C players, so they may live in a illusionary bubble of self-ignorance where they feel like fully accomplished kings of the world