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Daniel Irvine on building software

Craft Conf 2015

25 April 2015

This week I attended Craft Conf in Budapest, Hungary. With 1300 attendees, this was a fairly large affair and vastly scaled up from the 500-strong event last year. It filled me with joy to meet so many like-minded people in such an inspiring and creative location. The city of Budapest is beautiful with a very subdued sense of majesty. I enjoyed my late evening walks through its ancient streets (although I failed in my attempts to find the red light district...).

Back to the conference. Disappointingly, the talks I attended were of mediocre quality and didn’t always match the abstract. There also didn’t seem to be much variety; there were many timeslots for which I was not in interested in any of the options. I won’t single out any individuals, but I would say that the conference seemed too much “agile” and not enough “craft”. Of the technical talks that I attended, in every case I felt I’d get the same value from 15 minutes of StackOverflowing. Microservice architecture seemed to be raved about at every opportunity. I don’t mind architectural talks but I’m always wary of people peddling specific architectures as a silver bullet. It’s such a turn-off. This is especially true for microservice architecture which in my experience is hazardous for all but the most experienced organizations.

The Ethical Developer

My favourite talk was The Ethical Developer by Grady Booch. Despite being streamed from some far-off, non-European remote location, Grady was engaging and had me busily taking notes throughout. There were many ideas that were new to me. Here’s one: today programmers have little legal responsibility for the code they write: for example, if our code causes the death of someone, the programmer is unlikely to be charged with a crime. But this state of affairs will almost certainly change in future as society becomes more aware of the work that we do, and it’s prudent to be aware of this fact as we build software today. I couldn’t help but think of the parallel with the banking industry in which bankers are protected from prosecution when they are exposed for fraud, laundering and a whole host of other deliberate crimes that they routinely partake in. My interest in the ethics of programming is still blossoming and I will write more about it in future.

Solidifying friendships

Above all else, it was a pleasure to reconnect with many of the intelligent and engaging craftsmen I had met earlier this year at Socrates Tenerife. Software craftsmanship is, after all, a community of professionals and this community was certainly evident at Craft Conf.

Room for improvement

Craft Conf 2015 was an ambitious jump in scale from 2014. Some things worked, some things didn’t. I’ll conclude by saying that there’s plenty of room for improvement at Craft Conf, and that’s a good thing. My decision to attend in 2016 will most likely depend on the speakers and the variety of talks on offer.

About the author

Daniel Irvine is a software craftsman at 8th Light, based in London. These days he prefers to code in Clojure and Ruby, despite having been a C++ and C# developer for the majority of his career.

For a longer bio please see danielirvine.com. To contact Daniel, send a tweet to @d_ir or use the comments section below.

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