RebelCon: Cork’s Software Engineering Conference

On on the 16th of June this year I attended RebelCon Cork’s first dedicated software development conference. Sponsored and organised by Poppulo (formerly Newsweaver), DesignWizard and it@cork Skillnet. It was a not for profit technology conference run by the developer community for the developer community held in the Republic of work, South Mall, Cork. There were 150 tickets available and the event was sold out. 17 international speakers covering everything from latest technology to cultural and development practices in the workplace.

The Schedule

The conference was all held on 1 floor. There were 8 time slots and all but three were split between the Green and smaller Blue conference rooms. Lunch and refreshments were served between each talk in the in a third room in the centre between the other 2.

If the copious amount of free flowing nespresso didn’t do the trick, Ryan O’Reilly gave a motivational keynote speech to warm everyone up for the day and had us Bruce Lee style Karate chopping and switching seats just enough times to ensure no one in the room was comfortable but everyone was wide awake.

 

Continuous Delivery – Death of Big Bang Stress

 

The first talk I went to, given by Mary O’Donovan Principal software developer at Dell EMC Cork, it was an account of her first hand experience with Continuous delivery.

The structure they had was a waterfall system, where information and responsibility for a new product was passed down through a hierarchy. Feature creep was an issue, along with bugs going unnoticed until after deployment since those testing the features were only involved in the project after development was finished and just before deployment, they therefore did not have a full understanding of what was required and what needed testing.

 

Figure 1: Waterfall Business Model

 

This was replaced with a system that used Minimum Viable Product (MVP). The features that are absolutely necessary are worked out at the outset of the project, and only those agreed will be included and the entire team is present and invested at the initial conception of this MVP.

 

Figure 2: Continuous Delivery Business Model

 

There are no deadlines and there is no hierarchy instead the whole team takes ownership of the product. Features are tested using automation continuously as they are worked on and deployment happens as the different parts of the project are completed. Taking away the stress of a single endpoint deployment or “big bang” deadline. According to Mary this approach also reduced the number of post deployment bugs since everything is tested along the way by the developers using peer reviews and automated tests.

 

Communication: earning or burning money?

 

Next was a talk given by communications expert Sabine Wojcieszak, Lecturer, Author, Public Speaker. She started by highlighting the false assumption that communication is easy because we have been doing it since birth. She calculated the cost per minute of meetings and asked if this was money well spent or not. She outlined the painfully obvious but far too familiar blockers to communication in meetings – poor preparation, not setting clear goals for the meeting, lack of concentration and participation, and not bothering to follow up on actions set in the meeting. She drove home a simple formula for productive meetings: Productive Meetings = agenda setting + defining and meeting goals + reviewing previous actions. Most interesting for me were the components of communication – Words only make up 7% – Verbal 38% and Body Language makes up 55%.

 

Using OWASP Tools to Build Secure Applications

 

Fiona Collins & Darren Fitzpatrick

 

I then went to see two security specialists and long time OWASP members talk about the open source security tools available from the Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP). OWASP is run mostly by volunteers and offers a selection of tools for testing the security of web applications all these tools are free and open source. Anyone is welcome to join OWASP and contribute to building these tools there are is chapter of OWASP in Cork and Dublin and they hold regular meetups. OWASP also provides a annual list of top 10 most important Web vulnerabilities.

 

Lightning Talk Smackdown

 

5 Lightning Talks, 50 minutes, 1 winner

Next there were 5 back to back ten minute talks.

  • Progressive Web Apps ROBERT GABRIEL Software Engineer at Teamwork.com
  • Overcoming the fear of adopting Continuous Delivery KEVIN DUGGAN Technical Team Lead at Poppulo
  • Geospatial queries in mongodb DANNY LANE Senior software developer at 8 West Consulting
  • Goodbye backbonejs Hello reactjs LAURA MELLETT Product Owner at Xanadu Consultancy
  • Git: 7 tips and tricks JULIEN CRETEL Software Engineering at Poppulo

The audience voted for their winner over twitter.

 

Building a Platform that Handles as Many Requests as Amazon.com

 

The 2nd last talk of the day for me was by David Mills, Chief Engineer at Xanadu Consultancy, on matchbook.com, a peer to peer betting exchange that, according to the Xanadu Consultancy website, processed 20 million real time transactions per day back in 2015. They built this horizontally scalable platform using NoSQL databases; Apache Cassandra DB and Mongodb, and Seda (staged event-driven architecture) served from local Java memory.

 

Building a bridge between design and development with UX Driven Development

 

The last speaker I saw, Jeremi Walewicz UX Developer at Wavebreakmedia, used both real world and online examples of bad and good User Experience in design. Attempting to illustrate the ever present need to strike a balance between form and function, explaining that if either one were to overpower the other the end user is to suffer. Designers should be developers and vice versa and endeavour to find a conversational workflow.

 

Wrap Up

 

Chris O’Dell said it best in her blog post about the event – The day ran smoothly and without any hiccups – you wouldn’t have known it was their first conference – well done to the organisers and I look forward to next year!