QCon London 2009: Final thoughts

QCon London 2009 took place last week at the Queen Elisabeth II conference centre, reconfirming QCon’s place as the undisputed champion of IT conferences in the UK. With a really fantastic line-up of speakers and very strong technical content at the bleeding edge of software development today, the conference managed to attract quite a large audience. I don’t know the official figures but my impression was that 400-500 people were constantly there, which is a real achievement especially since very few companies have money to spend this year on conferences.

Although there was no central theme of the conference, web as an enterprise platform and scaling out systems seemed to be the topics that attracted most people. Apart from that, the conference had really strong DDD and agile development line-ups as well. Keynotes were a lot weaker, although the speakers were impressive and I probably expected too much from them. Sir C.A.R. Hoare opened the conference but his talk was a bit too academic for my taste, discussing how computer science and software engineering can help each-other. Martin Fowler talked about the US presidential campaign and how software helped Obama’s supporters reach out into the communities and help them organise better. This talk would probably be much more interesting for a US conference than a UK one.

I did two talks. One on Slim and the future of FitNesse (thanks a lot to Skills Matter for giving me a slot they sponsored to talk about something I’m passionate about) and one on using messaging to improve web architectures. With such a focus on Web, I did not really know how this talk would be received, since it was partially based on challenging the idea that web apps are a golden hammer that can be used to solve any problem. On the end, I got the feeling that people enjoyed it and got a few laughs as well, so I’m glad that I chose that for the subject.

Curiously, QCon in the UK attracts lots of US based speakers so this gave me a chance both to listen to some people I don’t usually meet and to catch up with lots of folks that I only knew online or met at Agile 2008. I decided not to go to Agile 2009, so I’m really grateful for the chance to meet colleagues from the other side of the Atlantic at this conference.

I really liked the venue, primarily because there were lots of power outlets everywhere, so I did not have to worry about recharging my laptop once the battery dies. Because of that, I was able to take notes in an electronic form and review the talks on my blog. I reviewed almost all the talks that I attended in the first two days. On the third day I mostly prepared the slides for my talk in the evening so I only reviewed one session, and published that a few days later. But in general, I published reviews within minutes after the talks ended (and once even before the question time finished). In addition to causing me to be called a monster, quite a few people thanked me for covering the conference so efficiently (1 2 3 4). I’m glad that you liked it and I hope you’ll keep coming back to this blog for more interesting stuff in the future. If you missed any of the reviews, you can find them here.

There were lots of WiFi hotspots with free access, but because people moved around a lot sometimes it was hard to find a hotspot with available DHCP leases, but in general this worked OK as well (as confirmed by the huge amount of tweets marked with #qcon). On another note, although there was a cloakroom on the ground floor, I spent the first day carrying my coat with me all the time, and I noticed lots of people doing the same during all three days, so if there’s one thing I’d suggest to the organisers for next year, it would be to either organise a cloakroom on the conference reception floor or clearly mark where the cloakroom is downstairs.

To my great surprise, Dan North (who started the whole BDD initiative) and one of the people I respect the most in the industry urged people to read my book Bridging the communication gap which was absolutely amazing. Thanks a lot for this, I really appreciate it!

Altogether, I really enjoyed the conference. Trifork & InfoQ – you did a fantastic job. Thanks a lot for inviting me to talk as well and I’m looking forward to the conference next year.

I covered QCon extensively on this blog. Click here to read the reviews and news from the conference.

I'm Gojko Adzic, author of Impact Mapping and Specification by Example. My latest book is Fifty Quick Ideas to Improve Your User Stories. To learn about discounts on my books, conferences and workshops, sign up for Impact or follow me on Twitter. Join me at these conferences and workshops:

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