• EncodeTalent

DDD Adelaide 2019: A Brief Retrospective

Updated: Jan 29


By Simon Cook


On 23 November 2019, over 100 people came together for inaugural DDD Adelaide. All the feedback we have seen has been overwhelmingly positive, and I feel Andrew Best and David Gardiner achieved everything they set out to. (see my pre DDD interview here).

In the lead up to the conference I was fortunate enough to interview a number of the presenters for our Coffee Catch Up series.


Post DDD, I decided to do a bit of a retrospective and ask those people for their reflections on the day. I have included the responses of Jess Budd, Dan Harris, Elena Casciano, Scott Cabot and Jakob Pennington.


I’m probably (definitely) biased, but I think it makes for a good read.....


Looking forward to the 2020 version already.


What were your 3 key takeaways from this year’s event?


JESS BUDD : “From Jakob Pennington’s talk I learnt how we can shift testing to much earlier in the development cycle, without slowing down development or getting in developer’s way. From Dan Harris’s talk on the origins of CSS, it was confirmed that everything old eventually becomes new again – with Netscape inventing CSS in JavaScript back in the nineties! Scott Cabot’s talk about accessible gaming was an eye-opener on the fantastic open source technologies, like Text-to-Speech, that we can leverage to make our games more accessible now quickly, easily and at low cost.”

DAN HARRIS : “My biggest take away was from Jess Budd’s Accessibility talk, the biggest bang for buck for accessibility is to use semantic HTML!! I also found it interesting to hear about Xero’s micro-front end journey, along with the locknote comments about AWS approach to product teams."


ELENA CASCIANO : “Give yourself a break, you’re made up of a lot of unconscious bias’s and its exhausting to adjust for all of them. Ethics and morality is going to be a huge battle ground in the future of tech evolution. Divs are not buttons!”


SCOTT CABOT : “Despite DDD being a developer conference I was really interested to see how much focus was on the human element of our profession, which in many ways was my first key learning. It is sometimes easy to forget that the things we make are ultimately for humans and that those experiences shape their ideas and opinions. That was evident in Lars keynote, Dan's talk on the speed that css has evolved and Jess' talk on accessibility.


The conference also reinforced my opinion that the technology sector is still approaching an inflection point where new ideas, voices and experiences will not only be vital but welcomed in forming successful teams and empowering individuals.


Lastly, I was reminded that there are lots of selfless people out there doing really cool things that are willing to share those experiences and that knowledge for free. Not only is this vital in building communities, but the openness other long-time presenters showed me, and their genuine enthusiasm for me to succeed showed that communities could be built by everyone succeeding together, not despite each other.”


JAKOB PENNINGTON : “There are a bunch of people advocating to make the things we build accessible to more people, and the two accessibility talks I saw both gave compelling business cases for accessibility on top of altruistic motivations, which was really interesting. Some of the tips from Jess’ talk were probably the most applicable for me in my work (static analysis tools, using screen readers during testing, semantic HTML).

Just a general comment - development seems to be synonymous with web development at the moment, a lot of people talking about the web dev space.

Matt’s lock note talk solidified some ideas in my mind about structuring products around the optimal team structure that builds them, rather than the other way around. His environment in Amazon is very different from ours, but it was still a valuable take away.”


What topics (not covered in 2019) would you like to see included in DDD Adelaide 2020?


JESS BUDD : “There were so many fantastic topics this year, there really was something for everyone. A topic I didn’t see this year but would be keen to see in the lineup for next year would be something on machine learning.”


DAN HARRIS : “I think the 2019 talk list was pretty varied, had a great mix of disciplines and technologies! Next year I’d probably like to see a few more UX style talks, some gaming related talks, and perhaps some mobile dev talks” 


ELENA CASCIANO : “Conflict resolution, how to deal with difficult team members.”


SCOTT CABOT : “As a big fan of game development I would love to see more topics in this area. Similarly as web development evolves and adopts the tooling once reserved for games I think there is also a great opportunity to learn about WASM, WebGL and other cutting edge front end technologies.”


JAKOB PENNINGTON : “The state of open source / contributing to open source projects. Could be interesting to see some early stage tech start-ups talk about taking an idea to MVP and beyond.”



What topics (not covered in 2019) would you like to see included in DDD Adelaide 2020?


JESS BUDD : “So many great moments, but a favourite would be the lunch break. Looking around seeing the Adelaide tech community coming together and engaging, lots of people obviously meeting new people in the industry for the first time and making connections. I think the people and the community are always what make a conference special. “


DAN HARRIS : “First arriving to DDD and soaking up the stellar atmosphere. It had a really great feeling!”


ELENA CASCIANO : “Hearing that the event sold out more than a week before the day! I’m not at all surprised that there’s a demand for these technical and community driven conferences. Also really enjoyed catching up with a few folks I haven’t seen in a while and making new connections.”


SCOTT CABOT : “The day really was one of those moments where the sum was greater than the individual parts. Some things that really stood out for me were, seeing David's PowerShell Agenda for the first time and being genuinely happy about it in a nerdy way. Finally getting my first three free coffees after my talk when my nerves had settled, it resulted in a little too much caffeine but I would do it again! A personal chat with Ming after her presentation and seeing my close friends and peers succeed in their talks all made for a really fulfilling experience.”


JAKOB PENNINGTON : “Probably biased, but seeing Scott’s blind menu demo go off without a hitch was a great moment. We all know how demos can go wrong, so you can’t help but want the presenter to succeed and pull it off. The demo also did a good job of validating his point that audio and visual cues are really useful for everybody, but especially the vision impaired.”


Before we go, any last thoughts?


JESS BUDD : “The DDDAdelaide crew did an amazing job! You would never have thought it was their first time running a conference. Similarly, there were several first time speakers that presented like they’d done it a hundred times before. Overall, it was a great experience and I would highly encourage everyone to come along next year”


DAN HARRIS : “It was really great to see the Adelaide Dev community embrace DDD Adelaide. It might be just my own bias, but it feels like the local dev community is really coming together.“


ELENA CASCIANO : “The coffee was amaze.”


SCOTT CABOT : “My only regret was that I couldn't see all the talks. There were two in particular that I'm extremely disappointed to have missed. If anyone was on the fence about going this year or was not fortunate enough to make I would definitely recommend doing what you can to get there next year. A big thanks to the organizers and volunteers, particularly David and Andrew, it's no small feat to run a conference, and to run one as well as they did for the first time is an outstanding accomplishment.”


JAKOB PENNINGTON : “I was amazed at how well polished the whole day was. Andrew and David and everybody else who helped organise the day absolutely killed it, and that gives me a lot of hope that we’ll see more DDD’s and other Adelaide cons in the coming years.”

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